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Defense?

In the past few days SC.com has asked 'what would you have individual players work on in the off-season?' Nearly every response in one way shape or form focused on defense, which I wholeheartedly agree with. If you could sit down with Coach Hill and talk about the Sonics Defense, what areas would you ask him to look at most closely? If there were two things I would focus most on it would be quickly getting back to the shell in the transition game and forcing players to certian spots on the court.

When talking about the transition game and needing to get back in the shell what I'm getting at is when the opposing team rebounds you simply sprint to the other end of the court and protect the basket. Everyone gets back to the paint, then worries about picking up thier man. What this does is stops teams from getting out and running and not running into some kind of resistence, because at least below the FT line there should always be at least one defender whose able to sprint back and get there before the opposing team can outlet and the PG can get up the court. Slowing down transition buckets forces the other team to get into their own offensive sets and should cut down on easy baskets.

Forcing players to certian spots on the court is basic fundamental defense. Last year there were way too many instances where Robert, Nick, Chris and Johan were left hung out to dry because our perimeter defenders couldn't stop a guy from getting to the middle when they were supposed to be forcing them to the baseline. This makes playing helpside team defense nearly impossible because you're in position to get to the spot to stop that baseline drive and your entire rotation after that point is set up with the offensive player going to the area where thier defender is forcing them. Once that breaks down at some point the offense is going to get either a wide open 15 footer or a layin because the rotations have been beat and the defense is scrambling. For as much as I hated George Karl's trapping defense the brilliance behind it was that he got his guys to force player to where the traps were to be set and the rotations were crisp.

If coach could get our defense to do these two things I believe our defense could be close to 10% more efficient than it was last year. This alone will not get us into the top 10 defensive teams in the league, but if the team can jump from last to the 18-22 range this team will win a lot of games.