By Craig Kwasniewski
Your owner's a redneck bent on moving the team back to his home town, your second best player opted out of a contract extension and will be a free agent next year, your starting center (who looks EXACTLY like his fanbase) just blew out his knee and will miss the entire season, and your best power forward is an ex-Clipper thus placing him in the same category with Darius Miles, Lorenzen Wright, Mo Taylor and Loy Vaught... sealing his fate as an overrated bust.
You are the Seattle Supersonics, and here is your Scouting Report, courtesy of the Los Angeles Lakers website:
Offensively, Seattle will look to play an up-tempo game. Ridnour is very good at catching the ball on the run and pushing the pace after makes or misses. They all do a good job of looking up the floor in hopes of finding shooters. Both Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis have the green light to shoot so we must make sure we limit their open looks, especially in transition and early offense situations. Chris Wilcox will also run the floor hard and the Sonics guards do a good job finding him in the paint or using him in pick and rolls.
One action that Seattle uses in various play sets and that we must be ready to defend is the back pick. One of the ways we will see back picks will be after Wilcox sets a pick in a pick and roll, someone will then set a back pick for him hoping to free him for a lob-dunk. Another way they will use this action is to create a post up for one of their big/post players. A post player will start high and the small/shooter will set the back pick as the big cuts to the post. This action is tough to defend because if the player guarding the picker helps on the big man for just a second, then the picker will be open as he pops to the top after setting the screen. In our pre-season game against Seattle they were effective in creating good post position for Collison and Lewis as well as getting Allen some open perimeter shots after he set the back pick.
Defensively, the Sonics are improved from last season. Assistant Coach Gordie Chiesa was brought in this season to help shore up some of their defensive liabilities as well as work with Ridnour. Coach Chiesa may look familiar to Lakers fans because he was an assistant in Utah during the glory days of Stockton-Malone. One aspect of their defense that we need to be aware of is the fact that they will occasionally pressure and trap the ball in the backcourt after free throws. Against Portland on opening night they were able to create some turnovers with this so we must be ready to attack it.