Okay it's two freaking days until the start of the season and I find I haven't gotten around to writing any of the usual stuff I do around this time.
We've been listening to or watching the games in preseason, we've been able to gauge (relatively) who's hot, who's not. We've actually had this discussion piecemeal over the space of a few threads but seems as good a time as any to consolidate it here.
What's your picks for the starting lineup and/or the rotation?
Now don't go all AK on me...I don't need to know nor do I care about subbing out player X for player Y at the six minute mark. Just give me the thumbnail sketch of your starting lineup or rotation for Opening Night and why you think it's the best option.
PG - Luke Ridnour.
Strangely enough this position more than any other has been hotly contested the last few years with no clear cut #1 option. This year Ridnour has really solidified his hold on the starting spot IMO with decent play in the preseason. As I say that, I have seen absolutely no evidence that Ridnour's weaknesses have been mitigated or addressed going into this season. I don't expect improved defensive play from him. I'm placing him in the starting lineup because I think he's the best distributor on the team and because guys like Kevin Durant and Chris Wilcox, who presumably will be the primary offensive options this year are going to need someone to get them the ball. I think Luke can be a serviceable #4 option on the floor and if he continues his drive and dish mentality it is possible that he can take another step forward into being a player that defenses have to respect.
SG - Delonte West.
West has had some impressive games in preseason. Traditionally he has been a much more effective if not more efficient scorer than Earl Watson. (Using career TS%). I see West as a better complement to Ridnour and Durant than Damien Wilkins, who will likely get the nod, I'm guessing. West does have decent handles and size for the 2 guard position. He may not be as good a defender as his reputation suggests but I think the combination of offense without flow killing and weakside shot blocking make West the better fit for the job. Which brings us to:
SF - Kevin Durant.
I've railed on enough already about my dislike for Kevin Durant at the 2 guard position. I believe in what I've seen of the offensive scheme so far, he is far too passive and stationed too far away from the basket to take advantage of his height. A 6'9 guy with his kind of athleticism should be playing closer to the hoop. I suppose whether that's at the 2 or the 3 is moot but I also want a way to get Delonte West in the starting lineup and I doubt Delonte's ability to play the SF. But put West at the 2 and Durant at the 3 and problem solved. If the Sonics were run by the Mariners Wally Szczerbiak probably starts here because of his "veteran grit." Wally may see his fair share of starts this season but for now I like him as the 6th man off the bench coming in with a scorer's mentality and being the focal point of the bench offense.
PF - Chris Wilcox.
In a perfect world Robert Swift would beat out Nick Collison for the starting center spot and Nick Collison would beat out Chris Wilcox for the starting PF job. In a perfect world I'd also be the guy who invented Pac-Man, the iPod, and silicon breast implants. Wilcox starts here since he is pretty much the only player with any semblance of offense in the low post, though the resemblances to the Blazers recent building around Zach Randolph aren't escaping me. I don't expect Wilcox to be a long term solution at this spot but am hoping that he manages to build his trade value high enough to convince some team to part with a valuable cog in return.
C - Nick Collison.
It was the frontcourt combo that seemed to work the best last year, for whatever that's worth. Swift is clearly not fully recovered yet nor seems to have full confidence in his knee, Petro has reached new nadirs of uselessness and Sene isn't ready for a prime time role nor a starting one. Collison and Wilcox are the classic Pink Floyd "A Nice Pair" in that their relative strengths and weaknesses seem to complement each other. Collison is a nifty rebounder with inconsistent offense; Wilcox is a nifty offensive player with inconsistent efforts on the glass. Put them together and the Sonics field a 25 point 12 rebound frontcourt. Not too bad, if a bit undersized, but since this team has been built to play smallball seemingly since John Anderson took a stab at the Presidency way back in the halcyon days of the Carter administration, what else would you expect.
So there's my starting lineup. Principle reserves will be Szczerbiak, Wilkins, Watson and Swift/Thomas being the primary frontcourt backups.
Let's hear your choices for starting lineup.