Front Office – A-
Going into the season the expectation of most fans was that this was a 30-40 win team. On media day management came out and said they thought they had a team who would challenge for a playoff spot. At the time most fans laughed, and with pre-season it looked like the fans were right. However, the acquisition of Danny Fortson proved to give this group the early push they needed to get off on the right foot. Not resigning Brent Barry and going with the combo of Antonio Daniels and Luke Ridnour came up looking great as well. The selection of Robert Swift is still up in the air as to whether it was the right call but the pickup of Damien Wilkins as an undrafted free agent really helped this team as injuries struck.
Coach Nate McMillan – B+
Most would give him an A and the increase in wins would warrant that however he still has some lapses in his game strategy (putting Potapenko in at the end of the Spurs series) and does a few too many odd rotational moves (playing Flip Murray, ever) for my tastes. I was supremely happy with his improvements over last year’s effort. Resigning him should be one of our highest priorities.
Ray Allen – A
Ray had an amazing year, there is no way anyone could rate him any lower than an A. This year he established himself as one of the top 10 players in the league and made another annual trip to the All-Star game. Leading the team in scoring was one thing, but it was his job of stepping into the role of team leader and bringing the team together as a unit that was his greatest asset. Key to off-season is bringing him back for next year.
Rashard Lewis – A-
Lewis would have received an A if not for the injuries that plagued him all season long. He stepped up and made his first All-Star team and scored more than 20 PPG for the first time in his career. Did not have the playoffs that he would have liked but at 25 is just coming into his prime and will have more opportunities to step up on that stage in the future.
Luke Ridnour – B+
Luke took over the starting PG role this year and performed admirably. With every game you could see the second year guard out of Oregon’s confidence improving. Has a great feel for where his teammates are when he has the ball and has extremely quick hands which lead to steals on defense. Despite injuries he did not miss a game and did not look overmatched very often.
Vladimir Radmanovic – B
Vlade had a solid but inconsistent year. When he was healthy he was a sixth-man of the year candidate, but the fractured fibula cost him 19 games. When Vlade is on top of his game the Sonics offense becomes nearly unguardable, but at times he’d go into tough shooting slumps which hurt his effectiveness.
Antonio Daniels – B
Antonio had a solid year for the team. At times he would hold the ball too long but as the season went on he developed great chemistry with Nick Collison making both players much more effective on the court. During the playoffs Daniels may have been our second most valuable player. Great backup PG and very valuable member of this Sonics team.
Nick Collison – B
For a guy coming back off of two shoulder surgeries it was hard to get a read on what could be expected out of Nick this year. What he did bring was toughness on defense as well as a good knack for rebounding. On offense he showed that he is a guy you can count on to be in the right place and when he got the ball he’d finish more often than not. Next year needs to work on finishing stronger at the rim and staying out of foul trouble. The Sonics are simply a better team when Nick is on the floor.
Damien Wilkins – B-
Damien barely made the team out of camp and was nearly waived in January but when Lewis and Radmanovic went down with injuries he was called on and stepped in admirably. Through hard work he turned himself into one of the teams’ most solid perimeter defenders. With all the free agents on this team he could be a huge part of the future of the Sonics.
Reggie Evans – C+
Reggie is a great rebounder and great guy in the clubhouse. Along with Danny Fortson and Nick Collison helped Seattle to develop the physical style which they became known for as the season went on. Hard to give a grade higher than a C to a player that is anemic on offense and can not hit free throws consistently.
Danny Fortson – C+
Danny gave the Sonics a physical identity which had not been seen in these parts since Frank Brickowski left. Sadly, Danny is about as offensively gifted as Frank was with the exception of free throw shooting. Had these grades just been based on November, Fortson probably garners an A as he was exactly what this team was missing. As the year went on his on court actions led to technical fouls and suspensions.
Jerome James – C-
Jerome was great, for five games against Sacramento. Other than that he was inconsistent at best and on a lot of nights poor. Overcame part of his wrap of not being a good teammate and to his credit did not mess up the chemistry of this team this year. Here is hoping that we’ve seen the last of JJ in a Sonics uniform.
Vitaly Potapenko – C
Vitaly was set to be the starting center but broke his hand during the pre-season. With the hot start the team got off to he never really did work into the set rotation. That being said he was a complete professional about the situation and when Nate did call his number he came out and always did the best he could.
Mateen Cleaves – C
Cleaves did nothing to speak of during the season on the court. Off the court, along with Ray Allen, he was one of the Sonics representatives to the Players Association. He’s also a guy that brings a winning pedigree and works hard in practice everyday. Exactly the type of player you want on the end of your bench.
Ronald Murray – D
Murray last year was a guy that looked as though he could be a major FA this off-season. Instead, he went out and laid an egg. Flip got hurt before the season started and found his way out of the rotation. When the coaching staff did call on him to give them minutes he shot a horrid 35% from the field and showed no ability to play defense. By the playoffs he had lost any backup swingman minutes to Damien Wilkins.
Robert Swift – Inc
We all knew when he was drafted that he would have a hard time cracking the rotation this year even when it was expected that we would be a horrible team. With the run the team ended up making there was not going to be minutes for a rookie big man who needs to add upper body strength. The last game of the season Robert did get a bit of time and showed that he has the ability to be a viable player in the league in the future, but this was not his year.