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The Emergence of Mike Wilks

Nobody expected much from the diminutive guard who could most kindly be described as a journeyman in this league. In many ways it was a surprise that he even saw the court for substantial playing time. When he did hit the floor it was clear that his quickness, energy, and attitude made a significant impact on the team. More surprising yet was the fact that his 9 point, 4 assist night was a huge factor in the team’s win over the Chicago Bulls…

Er…wait a minute…that was Mateen Cleaves…

Back to Wilks:

It is always easy to be inspired by the little guy who plays with energy and speed. Wilks displayed much of both last night and promptly went from a trade afterthought (it’s tough on the ego being an afterthought to “cash considerations”) to a fan favorite. Whether he has any significant impact from here on out is yet to be seen. Just to put it all in perspective read this praise from one poster a couple of months ago:

Mateen played with great energy when he was in and he passed the ball and he used the screens and picks from his big men - getting everyone involved! That’s what a point guard should do. His intensity was great. Even though he might not have the greatest talent, he uses what he has and counts on his teamates to carry the load… that’s what a point gaurd should do. This is a no brainer. Mateen has to play.

I will stick by my earlier prediction that Wilks is best used as a situational substitution, and rarely at that. With Earl Watson in the lineup he is extremely unlikely to see any type of significant minutes. I will say however that last night caught my interest a bit. The Sonics as an organization have had some really longstanding and glaring weaknesses that seem to have been addressed this season.

First we’ve seen the emergence of a legitimate core of true centers in Swift and Petro. Stark contrast to the elbow jumper shooting string of PF’s we’ve had manning the position in recent years.

Secondly a lack of athleticism and straight nastiness at the 4 spot seems to have been addressed with the acquisition of Chris Wilcox. Between him and Nick Collison it seems as if we have true PF’s to go along with our true centers in the lineup.

While Wilks may not make an impact often I am extremely hopeful that the combination of him and Earl Watson combines to address our complete inability to guard smaller, quicker guards. Ever since Gary Payton lost a couple of steps in his last few seasons it seems as if we get torched 4 or 5 games a year by small quick guards who can penetrate and dish. It is extremely disheartening to have Earl Boykins beat us again and again.

The results have not come together to produce wins yet, but at least it seems as if some of the pieces are in place for a team without such glaring weaknesses. Mike Wilks is not a savior, but in a season like this one I think it’s great that the fans can still get excited about him.

What other glaring weaknesses does the team have left to address?