So traditionally I make a big to do about the open practice as the first real chance to get a view of the players. We try to read a ton into every little detail from this practice despite the fact that there is so little real content, it is just a nice amount of infomation to fill the void. I remember the heydey when I published about a 700 word piece predicting that this unknown kid Jerome James had an NBA body and could be a dark horse to make the team...no such mystery this season.
This year I think the practice Blogs are really providing excellent coverage so we can limit the commentary to just a few points and let those of you who were there talk about it.
There were a lot of you there. A line around the block and a packed house to be exact. I am SO FREAKING EXCITED about this team and about the fact that people may embrace it. Literally 5 times as many people as the same event last season.
Robert looked good, as did all the centers. There is always the fear that they only look so good because they are matched up against each other. I don't think that was the case with Swift but with the others hard to tell. I still think Mo Sene is a guy who could develope into a really nice player. Physically he has developed and he was effective just hanging at the baseline for opportunities. Johan got some run at the 4.
Durant looked off to me. He had some notable shots but for the most part simply stood out on the perimeter and he had some REALLY bad shots where he pushed the ball with no arc. If you hadn't know he was the #2 pick he would not have stood out.
The guy who would have stood out is Delonte West. West was as sick as you can be in two twelve minute scrimmages cutting aggressively to the hole, and showing an elevation that I don't think I've seen from any other player I've watched. He simply floats off the ground and has dunks that will electrify to go along with a nice jumper and defense. My favorite play of the entire night was one that should not have happened in this type of scrimmage. In a 2 player breakaway another player, maybe Luke had the ball and was running upcourt with Delonte ahead of him. West saw Gelabale looking at the ball and simply turned to face him, crossed his arms, planted his feet, and wiped him out on one of those plays that, when playing pickup ball you yell to the guy as a warning. Gelabale never saw it coming, never got a warning, and got creamed. It could have been an injury very easily. We have lacked someone on the roster that nasty.
Here's the big news of the night: I'm still a fan.
I had some real worry that after all that has gone on the spark would simply have gone out. Sometimes it all feels like a business and I thought maybe the passion just wasn't there. Not the case. I may love the team more than ever now that I feel so vested in it. I was absolutely giddy to watch this team take the court and I am still flying high after getting Kevin Durants autograph. Hell Yeah!!!
I really, really appreciate those Sonics staffers who made the point of being sincere in their comments to me that they understand I have to do what I have to do. Being adversarial with your home team is a hard thing and sometimes it eats me up. The kind words I continue to get from front office people who say they appreciate the effort and the passion mean a tremendous amount.