For NBA teams right now, the only thing easier than a night off is playing the Seattle Supersonics. We are a fun team to play against and for a fan, that is very sad. At its core, Seattle is still a working class city. We cheer for great defense just as loud as great offense. The best way to get the crowd into a frenzy is to dive on the floor for a loose ball. The Sonics NEED to find a way to play better defense and it has to start with better coaching because this roster should be peforming better. The announcement of Weiss being fired today is clearly because of his inability to coach this team on the defensive end.
This Roster Shouldn't Be This Bad at D
Seattle doesn't have the personnel to be a defensive juggernaut. You could even argue that they don't have the personnel to play above average D. But they shouldn't be this bad. We are the worst defensive team in the league and playing the worst Sonics defense of any team I can remember in the last 15 years. We are worse than any team that Westphal coached and worse than Nate's poor year a couple years ago. It's bad to the point of absurdity.
The loss of James' shot blocking and Daniels' experience certainly can account for a drop in defensive effectiveness. The fact that some guys aren't happy about their deals could be a factor, if you aren't playing together, the defense will suffer. All of the Sonics problems put together do not justify this team going from 13th in the league in points allowed last year to 30th in the league so far this season.
Why Blame Weiss?
A Lack of Effort: Coaches need to be able to fire up their players and motivate them to get key stops. Was Bob pushing the right buttons? Was Bob calling these guys out, questioning their professionalism and perhaps their manhood? Were guys being chewed out? I am not saying that there is just one way to motivate players, but when you are the worst team in the league at defense and players clearly aren't giving their all, you have to seriously question the coach's ability to motivate his players.
Every night, we are seeing an NBA team play D like they are at the YMCA or playing a Rec. game and I seriously wonder if Bob had the personality to connect with these guys in a way that would produce an acceptable effort. The most troubling thing about this team on defense isn't that they are inconsistent, it's that they are consistently bad.
No Signs of Improvement
One consolation is that I think it's as bad as it can get but it would be nice to see some improvement. There have been a handful of games that we played respectable defense this year but I can't remember one lately. The defense just didn't seem to be improving and that's why the Sonics had to make the change.
No Sense of Urgency
It doesn't matter who we were playing or what was on the line, the team never played hard on defense. Hands were usually at their sides, rotations were slow and opposing players were rarely punished when they drove into the lane.
Weiss granted his players more freedom, less rules and an easier training camp than previous years. I think it's safe to say that it didn't pay off. I am not not saying that cellphones in the locker room explain Seattle's bad defense but our conditioning last year probably helped fuel our hot start. The team this year seems to still be in a preseason mentality and preseason shape.
Seattle doesn't stop anything. How can an NBA team with scouts, video tape and assistant coaches not take anything away from the opposing team? This team is not young and has numerous coachable players. Clearly, it's not a team with great defensive personnel, but they shouldn't be this bad.
This team is a joke defensively and whether it's fair or not it's a reflection on Weiss. His failure to produce any defensive improvement has cost him his job. You have to be able to lead and motivate a team to win in this league. Being smart and nice isn't good enough, you have get results and the results so far have been completely unacceptible for a team that won over 50 games last year.
Changing coaches may not help, but at some point you have to look different leadership for this team. The Sonics had expectations this year and was starting to set a standard for good basketball in Seattle, I don't think the fans or the Sonics should give up on that standard. Weiss' firing is both timely and justified.