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Rookie Watch RMR

Here is a quick look at several other rookies we could have selected instead of Mo Sene.

Seattle fans made no secret on draft day of their strong distaste for the selection of Mo Sene with the #10 overall pick in the draft. While the arguments against drafting him were many the arguments for him were fairly simple. It boils down to two specific reasons:

First, you can never have enough big men. It may sound over simplistic but seven footers are a premium commodity and the Supersonics had an opportunity to add one for 4 years at a reasonable price.

Second, none of the other players available were terribly inspiring. This argument, more than the first provides the primary reason that I can support the pick. In the end most debates with critics come down to the simple question of “who would you have chosen.” And the answers to that question do not provide many stars.

Yesterday I had the opportunity to take a good, hard look at several players mentioned prominently as Sonics draft picks. Since we all know that second-guessing and hypothetical decision making are staples of the internet community here are my reviews of the rookies who may have been in our sight on draft day:

Mo Sene
Starting with our own rookie I am going to try and temper my enthusiasm so that I do not appear as too much of a homer.

Sene finished the game with a reported 20:47 minutes, 7 points, 5 blocked shots, 4 rebounds, 6 personal fouls, 1 steal, and 1 turnover. For those reviewing the final box score it should be noted that the majority of those stats occurred in the first half during a period in which Sene was extremely effective. On the very first possession of the play Sene recovered a missed jump shot for a rebound directly under the basket. He hunched over to protect the ball and was immediately swarmed by 3 Philadelphia players. He appeared to be completely boxed in and likely should have had a turnover but held the ball for a series of shoulder fakes before exploding upwards for a dunk. On the very next possession he completely erased the shot of Steve Castleberry. The 6’11 Castleberry was likely inserted into the starting lineup specifically to offset the height of Sene but was completely overmatched and soon pulled from the game. For the majority of the game Sene was matched up against the much quicker Shavlic Randolph. It is notable that Randolph was the matchup for most of the game because despite only averaging 2.5 and 2 last season he does have an entire year of experience as an NBA player.

The most impressive attribute displayed by Sene yesterday would certainly be his restraint. While he finished the game with 6 fouls he did not receive his first until nearly 4 minutes into the second quarter. During that period he had 4 blocks but resisted the urge to hack at every jump shot. As I was specifically expecting him to have trouble with discipline on this issue it was a pleasant surprise. Of his six fouls 3 were clearly what would be called “good fouls” by any coach or fan. He prevented easy buckets with contact and forced his man to the bench. Two were simply flow of game fouls that were his fault, but not anything out of the ordinary, the final was simply a bad call. Late in the third quarter on a Philadelphia jump shot one of the Sixers players pushed off so badly for a rebound that nearly everyone on the court hesitated waiting for the call. When it didn’t appear Sene leapt for the ball only to be called for his own tick-tack foul by the weak side official.

Sene impressed nearly everyone in the gym and did nothing at all to make anyone question his selection. It was unfortunate that his strong start tapered off because he appeared to be on the verge of an explosive debut. In the end it appears that fatigue and solid in-game adjustments by the Sixers neutralized his early energy.

Rodney Carney
Carney lived up to his expectations in his debut for the 76ers with up and down play. . At the end of the first quarter he had a non-descript 4 points, 1 rebound on 2 for 5 shooting. In the second quarter he all but disappeared taking only one shot and picking up two more fouls for a total of 6 points.

In the third quarter Carney suddenly came alive taking 8 shots and scoring 11 points in impressive fashion. During this stretch you could see his energy level growing by the minute and he electrified the crowd with an impressive slashing dunk in traffic. More impressive to me was a quick turnaround jumper from near the three point line in which he received the ball, spun, elevated, and drained a jumper so quickly that it was nearly unstoppable.

Despite good statistics and dominant moments I think that Carney’s performance is probably a bit of a disappointment. He showed everything that was expected of him coming out of Memphis including the reputation for up and down play and the inability to maintain focus for an entire game. Worse he really required the ball in his hands a great deal to build his energy and be effective. This is likely to be a serious problem for him in Philadelphia where Iverson and Webber dominate the ball and Andre Igoudala is waiting in the wings. He reminds me a great deal of Damien Wilkens possibly with a worse attitude. After one game I feel fairly comfortable that we passed on Carney.

Ronnie Brewer
Consider me impressed with the Jazz’ rookie players. Brewer, like Carney was “as advertised” displaying a remarkably consistent floor game that resulted in 11 points, 4 assists and 3 rebounds in 18 minutes. I was surprised to see him enter the game very late and thought that it may be indicative of poor play for the Jazz. However when he arrived he appeared to be very polished and extremely comfortable on the floor. There are some players in the NBA who really seem to know their own body and maximize their strengths and weaknesses. Brewer appears to be that type of athlete. On one occasion he received the ball at the elbow of the free throw line, put the ball on the floor, and performed a series of jukes before using his long arms to hit a teammate with a perfect pass. It was impressive. He also does not seem to push and is tenacious on defense where his style of play reminds me a great deal of former Sonic Desmond Mason. He has similar body language and intensity to that of Mason but his added height will likely make him a better player. While I am not ready to say that I would prefer Brewer to Sene I will say that I would be thrilled to have him on my team and consider him a very nice young player.

Coming later: Sheldon Williams, Dee Brown, Denham Brown, Yotan Halperin