Although I'm not completely sold on the drafting of Kevin Durant after one year of stellar college hoops, it looks as though the Sonics are taking steps in the right direction. However, as I pondered the moves of the Sonics last night, I began to think that the team gave away far more than it got back through the draft and in the trade with Boston. How so? Let me explain.
For a green player, Durant has shown flashes of brilliance but also impetuousness and often plays out of control. His supremely quick release on his jump shot and his lack of hesistation to put it up remind me of Michael Redd but without the refinement. He's got size (height), speed, and inhuman-like length. This makes him a matchup nightmare for many each night. I watched him go to town on Raja Bell his first night in the pros. Bell is no slouch as a defender nor is Grant Hill; needless to say, Durant abused both of them. I was pretty impressed. His game will only improve as he gains strength and becomes more savvy and when he does, watch out. But...
Is Durant truly a suitable replacement for Ray Allen, Rashard Lewis, or both? Not a chance. This is the part that worries me most about the immediate future of the team.
Allen and Lewis both brought a steady scoring punch to the team that is sorely missed and has not yet been replaced. Durant, having to shoulder the load as a rookie, is being asked to do more than he can or should. That's my opinion..
Onto the trade and off season...
The key players in the trade with the Boston Celtics (D. West, W. Szczerbiak) have contributed little to this point. West is bringing 7.7 PPG/3.3 APG; Szczerbiak is contributing similarly palrty numbers to the tune of 11.1 PPG/2.0 RPG. This, by no means replaces the figures that Ray Allen is pulling in ALONE: 19.4 PPG/4.4 RPG/3.3 APG. That said, those principal players are vets and need to swtep up and contribute. The coach needs to realize that rookies will develop when given minutes either now or later, but veterans only get older and can contribute when they are played. Losing Allen was devastating in my eyes. Thankfully, the drafting of a solid Jeff Green (9.1 PPG/5.3 RPG) and the emergence of both Damien Wilins and Chris Wilcox have given Sonics fans some glimmer of hope for the present and future.
Losing Rashard Lewis was equally painful. His scoring punch and perimeter threat are sorely missed and not easily replaced (19.1 PPG/5.2 RPG/~40% 3PT%). It has yet to be seen if his greed and lust for playing elsewhere will pay off for him and his output picked up by the remaining Sonics.
I like the acquistion of Kurt Thomas, but I think PHX gave him away for pretty much nothing. He provides a solid low post presence, dependable jumper inside 15 feet, and solid leadership in the clubhouse; as such, PHX's loss is surely SEA's gain for the short time they may have him.
I don't agree with P.J. Carlesimo as head coach. There weren't many better options and he did deserve another shot at the big job. That said, his tough nosed Seton Hall approach doesn't work well in the pros. Ask P.J. how well it worked with one Latrell Sprewell.
In all, the jury is still out on the trade, draft, and off season. I'm a fan regardless, but I'm definitely worried for the next few years. All this coupled with the teams' impending move to Oklahoma City (hopefully not) makes for plenty of turmoil and losing seasons. I think they surely gave up more than they got in return.