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2005-06 Season Roundtable, Part II

This is the second part of the roundtable discussion of the 2005-06 season by the seven SonicsCentral.com authors.

Let's discuss some of the Sonic players and how you guys think they'll perform this season. Let's start with Luke.

SonicsMan: Luke is set to have a strong offensive
year. We'll see a better finisher and more poise when
shooting from outside. He will continue to be a
strong passer and solid when setting the floor but I
expect him to be more efficient on offense and to look
for his shot more. There may be growing pains but I
expect him to improve his field goal percentage,
points per game and his assists per game.

Steve: Luke could definitely be headed for a star-making season.
The more minutes he can play the better, since his backups scare me.
I don't understand the obsession with saddling Luke with total
offensive liabilities in the starting lineup to begin the game, but
that's how this organization chooses to run their roster. I think when the dust clears, he'll be one
of the top 5 PGs in the NBA.

Big Chris: Much of this season rides on the development and
ability of Luke Ridnour. He will need to pick up some of the scoring
that AD provided last year. I expect his minutes per game to
increase, and he will see increases in all statistical categories. I
would not be surprised to find him to be the third leading scorer at
the end of the season. I think he'll continue to improve in his
shooting, hitting the open shots, making more 3's than last year. I
think his biggest contribution (and improvement) will come in the flow
of the offense, directing traffic and finding the open man. I would
not be surprised to see 15 games of 10 or more assists for Luke this
season.
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What do you guys think about about Nick Collison?

Scott: I believe that this year Nick will show why he was
selected as a lottery pick. Nick is by all accounts our best
frontcourt player but will come off the bench in Weiss's rotation to
set the tone for our second unit and hopefully avoid some of the
foul concerns which saddled him last year. I fully expect that
he'll play between 25-30 minutes a game and should average about 10
points and 7 boards a game. Nick's overwhelming strength is his
consistency on both ends of the court. He needs to watch his foul
trouble and finish at the rim with a bit more authority.

Big Chris: I think casual fans will be surprised by Nick this
season. Much of what Nick does is not always fully reflected in a
statistical category, but it makes a huge difference to the final
score. I think he will average 9 and 7, but his contributions will be
unmeasurable. I think Nick will get some of the toughest defensive
assignments all season long, doing things like hounding Tim Duncan and
pestering Brad Miller. And I love the fact that Nick knows he
belongs, but he's humble about it. He will be our blue collar star.
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Any comments on Danny Fortson?

SonicsMan: I love the guy and want the best out
him but I think this will be a tough year for him and
his fans. After the Brawl in Detroit, Danny couldn't
catch a break from NBA refs. I don't expect that to
change next year. I think between injuries and close
calls, Danny will be little more than an x-factor next
year.

Steve: I don't think the refs will change the way they call Danny's game from last year,
and as such he won't be an effective rotation player for the Sonics.
This will be slightly mitigated by Nick playing the vast majority of the
reserve minutes at center and Vladi filling in at PF and both playing
as well as they did last year. I like Danny, but if he can't stay on the floor, he can't help us.

Big Chris: If Fortson can keep his head on straight, he is a game
changing player. This is not because he is at the level of a Ray Allen
or Rashard Lewis, but because he bring a very unique blend of skills
when he is on the floor. He can collect rebounds and fouls at an
incredible pace, and this will be the key to his season. If he can
keep his head, and stay out of foul trouble, he will be a difference
maker. He hits his free throws, and draws fouls often enough to make
that a great tool.
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And how about Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis. We haven't discussed them much yet. Anyone?

John: When commentators look at Seattle, they see players that appear
somewhere between journeyman and also-ran. I think they fail to give
Ray his credit. Ray Allen is a superstar and has the ability to make
a good team a really good team. One of Ray's greatest attributes is
that he really does make players better. Petro's had a nice
preseason, and many times I've heard KC on the call with Ray giving
Johan a perfect pass for the dunk. With AD gone, Ray could even be
better because AD won't be stealing his game winning shots.

Rashard Lewis needs to improve again. I really like Lewis' game, but
if he takes another step up, Seattle could actually surpass last
year's win total. However, we should be concerned about his
tendonitis as those knees have quite a few miles on them from year-
round play--of course, that year-round play is the reason he keeps
getting better every year.

A slight increase in rebounds and another advance in defense (like
he played against McGrady down in Houston last year) and we're
really going to like the Sonics on the defensive end of the court.
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Anyone else we haven't talked about yet that you'd like to comment on?

SonicsMan: It's another rough year for Robert Swift. I
think he could easily become the odd man out with all
the other centers at Weiss' disposal. He will need a
lot of injuries to players ahead of him to see
consistent court time.

Steve: Yeah, Flip Murray. As the anointed successor to AD a lot falls on his shoulders. If he tanks it, that leaves the coaching staff no choice but to go to a 4-guard rotation with Wilkins as the 2 and Brunson or Cleaves backing up Luke at point guard. That could be a very tough situation for the coaching staff to manage, as the last time we had a 4-guard rotation it got pretty messy.

John: Vladi needs to play well on BOTH ends of the floor for the Sonics to be a quality playoff team. I nervously put down 47 wins because I'm thinking he's going to play well, but consistency is what I need to see from Radmanovic and I'm not sure he's capable of that. A key will be Vladi playing hard defense even if his shot isn't falling. I don't know why that guy doesn't have his agent sell the media on the fact he's going to be concentrating hard on the defensive end of the floor. Refs read papers.

Scott: At some point this season having Mikki Moore on the roster will pay off. He was signed in my opinion as an insurance policy for injury to Vitaly Potapenko and in case neither Robert Swift nor
Johan Petro is not ready to play minutes on a consistent basis this season. Injuries are bound to hit especially when with Vitaly and Radmanovic in the rotation and with Moore you have a professional who can step into that role and will do whatever the team asks him to do. While not overly talented on the offensive end of the court Moore is an active body that will set picks and attack the offensive boards. On the defensive end he will play solid position defense and has the ability to block some shots.

Reggie Evans learned on Friday that he won the starting Power Forward job for the third year in a row. My big concerns with Reggie have always been on the offensive end and his propensity to flop instead of play solid position defense. My hope for him is that over the summer he's worked on his offensive game to the point where teams just can not completely leave him alone on that end of the court. He should log between 20-25 minutes and in that time lead the Sonics in rebounding.

Thanks guys!