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Breakout Player

Shout out to SuperSonics.com for a great interview with Coach PJ Carlisimo. Nothing like actually talking hoops to get me excited for the upcoming season.

Its interesting to note all the love that Nick Collison gets from his new head coach. Think he’s going to have a big role next year? Also in front page picture I think it is fairly safe to say that Jeff Green looks pretty close to the same size and height as Nick who played the 4 and 5 for us last year. Good news for a guy who’s considered a tweener.

Breakout Player of the Year:

It is getting tougher to fill the time but we should all hold out hope. We’re sitting just about a month away from the players reporting to camp. It looks like, despite the barbs I throw ownerships way once in a while I am likely to be credentialed yet again so I’m looking forward to another year of having some insight.

Today’s topic is “breakout player”. Funny but I tried to think of who the breakout player last season was and I can hardly come up with one. Robert Swift is a guy I would have expected had he gotten healthy. Damien Wilkins had his shot and didn’t really establish himself. While I loved the spacing and general game of Mickael Gelabale I can’t say that he actually accomplished enough to be considered a breakout player.

The honors would have to go to Nick Collison who ended the season at 10 and 8. As always with Nick stats don’t tell the whole story. The guy established himself as more than a role player and finished the second half of the season as a double-double machine. I am very curious to see whether he or Wilcox gets the nod as starting PF. My hunch is that it will come down to the performance of Robert Swift. If Swift has a great camp he may start at center. It would make sense to start Nick next to him to provide the experience and intangibles that balance out Swifts athleticism and raw talent. If Swift struggles then Kurt Thomas will be the savvy intangibles guy and start next to the athleticism of Chris Wilcox. Either way as I start to look at this rotation I think the frontcourt minutes are going to be in the hands of Collison, Wilcox, Thomas, Green, and one other player. That player is most likely to be Swift and as such Johan Petro, who started 54 games in the last two years is likely to be sitting next to Mo Sene on Seattle’s bench.

This year the candidate list for Breakout Player is fairly long, including young players like Swift and Delonte West who I am really excited to see play. West could be a starter with this team and could ride the pine the entire season. My hunch is that his combination of penetration, defensive tenacity, and nasty attitude provide some elements which were sorely missing from the team in the past years and he will get time at both guard positions.

If neither of those young players steps up you could look towards Collison to take another legitimate step forward or Luke Ridnour to regain confidence and become the playmaker he is expected to be. At least on an individual performance level I expect both these young players to benefit greatly from the departures of Rashard Lewis and Ray Allen. While Allen and Lewis were great offensive players the teams reliance on feeding the ball through the hands of their two star players was so prevalent that some of the other guys failed to get into good rhythms. Collison has clearly demonstrated that he is a guy who gets going better with a few touches and Ridnour has never really seemed to get into a solid rhythm.

Lastly I would consider Jeff Green as a candidate. Can you breakout when you’re a rookie? I’m not sure but in general terms I think that he is a player who is very likely to exceed peoples preconceived expectations and that makes him a breakout guy in my book.

With a team so young there are a ton of other candidates. Petro, Sene, Wilkins, or Mike Gelabale would have to have only moderate success to be considered for the honors.

Sonicscentral.com pick: Delonte West, 14 points, 5-6 assists in about 28mpg. If you increase your scoring and assist totals while cutting minutes off your floor time then you qualify as a breakout player.