The Sonics fall from 52 to 35 wins and out of the playoffs was so predictable that it seemed almost too predictable. But it happened and it would be surprising to see them get back into the upper echelon of teams in a very tough conference. For a high scoring team the Sonics had surprisingly few fantasy options until the end of the season when Chris Wilcox and even Earl Watson emerged as legitimate options. Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis are reliable players who are clearly the offensive leaders on this team and former interim coach Bob Hill will continue to lean heavily on them.
The Stud: Ray Allen, SG
Now thatâ€™s a nice season, as itâ€™s bound to be when you set an all-time record in one of the six cumulative fantasy categories. Allen made 35% more 3s than Gilbert Arenas, who was second in the league, making him outrageously dominant there. Everything else was right around his established numbers in Seattle, and it was encouraging to see him make it through a second consecutive season largely injury-free. You canâ€™t count on him to break his own record in 3s again, but betting on Allen to lead the league in 3s is probably the safest bet for any single category in fantasy this year, except for maybe Steve Nash in assists. Itâ€™s always nice to get out to a huge start in a category, and itâ€™s always nice to have the unquestioned #1 option on one of the leagueâ€™s highest scoring teams. There are plenty of possibilities as you get around the #10 position in the draft, and Allenâ€™s as legit an option as any of them.
The Support: Rashard Lewis, SF
He still canâ€™t earn much fantasy respect, but once again he was right there in the top 25-30 at the end of the year. We canâ€™t blame it all on his playing in Seattle; itâ€™s because he gets his value by being pretty good at everything without being particularly great at anything. His 1.8 3s are quite nice, but he was barely top 20 there and it was a fairly steep drop from the 2.4 per game he hit in 04-05. Some people were scared by a shoulder problem, but Lewis played in 78 games, his seventh straight season of 70+ games. Lewis is a â€œfill-in-the-stat-line-nowâ€ kind of guy. You know exactly what to expect from him and thereâ€™s not much chance of a breakout. People like their early picks to be superstars, or at least have the chance to superstars, and thatâ€™s not too likely with Lewis. Last year he went 32nd in my league and finished 23rd on the player rater. I have a feeling something pretty similar will happen again.
The Supporting Support: Luke Ridnour, PG
Ridnour gets the job done and is basically your prototype #2 PG. He finished 7th in assists, 17th in steals and 22nd in free throw value last season. OK, so he doesnâ€™t hit too many 3s â€“ thereâ€™s a reason heâ€™s a #2 PG. Heâ€™s durable and will probably have one stretch where it looks like he might lose his job, but heâ€™s pretty reliable. Ridnourâ€™s not a good shooter, but he doesnâ€™t throw enough up there for it to hurt you more than you can handle from the position. Heâ€™s not a guy youâ€™re going to love, but heâ€™s pretty easy to like. He improved his scoring, assists and steals last season, his second as a starter. Heâ€™s young enough to continue to show improvement and he plays for one of the leagueâ€™s highest scoring teams. His lack of flash and the fact that he plays in Seattle will probably make him a decent value in the middle rounds on draft day.
The Sleeper: Damien Wilkins, GF
Undraftable, but should something happen to Ray Allen, Wilkins could be a must-have. He took Allenâ€™s spot in the starting lineup four times last year and in those four games he put up numbers of 16/4/2 with a handful of 3s and steals. Nothing spectacular, but if the minutes are there heâ€™s worth playing. Of course, that goes for just about anyone. Weâ€™ve never denied itâ€™s all about the opportunity, and spotting who might get that opportunity is a big part of things.
The Slacker: Chris Wilcox, FC
As you well know by now, just because someoneâ€™s a slacker doesnâ€™t mean we think they are bad. Just overvalued. Wilcox has always flashed plenty of potential, heâ€™s just never had an extended opportunity to show his stuff. He got that opportunity when he was traded to Seattle in the second half of the season, and in his contract push he put up some mighty promising numbers. In 30 games with the Sonics Wilcox put up 14.1/8.2/1.2 on a ridiculous 59% shooting. He ended the season on a down note but put up some just monster lines in the weeks prior to that â€“ 16 and 19, 30 and 14, 26 and 24 among them. He signed a three-year to stay with the Sonics and should be the teamâ€™s starting PF going into the season. Heâ€™s going to be worth drafting, but thereâ€™s always at least one person in your league who will see the upside, see those numbers from late in the season and project him out as a 20/10 guy who will be the next Shareef Abdur-Rahim. Sure it could happen, just donâ€™t overpay to find out. His center-eligibility in Yahoo! Leagues is a nice temptation, though.
Double Dribbles: Earl Watson was a little dynamo for the Sonics after getting out of Denver, averaging 11.5/3.0/5.4 with 1.3 steals and 1.8 3s in 25 mpg off the bench. He might have been a little too good, in fact, ensuing that heâ€™ll remain in that sparkplug off the bench role that would limit his minutes just enough to make him a fantasy tease that makes for decent depth but probably not someone youâ€™d feel comfortable starting in most leagues â€¦ Robert Swift showed some actual potential in his second season after sitting on the pine for almost his entire rookie season. Swift wonâ€™t be any kind of offensive force for a long while, so we mostly care about his blocks. Swift had seven games of 3 blocks or more last season, not bad. He commits lots of fouls and that could keep him from seeing that magic 30 mpg mark that would make him a decent third center â€¦ Nick Collisonâ€™s a lesser statistical version of Wilcox. Excellent FG%, very good boards, some points. He went for 20 and 12 then 19 and 13 in two of his first games as a starter last year but those were two of his best games of the year.
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