드디어 NBA 정규시즌이 개막했다. 첫날. 티맥과 코비는 박터지는 승부를 연출했고, 사상 첫 2연패를 노리는 샌안토니오 스퍼스는 여유있게 개막전을 승리로 장식하면서 가벼운 첫발을 띄었다.
그리고 내일. 시애틀 슈퍼소닉스는 덴버 너겟츠를 상대로 2007~08시즌 개막전을 치른다.
그동안 선발라인업에 대해서 "잘 몰라요~~"라는 대답만 해대던 칼리시모 감독이 드디어 결단을 내렸다고 한다.
그 라인업을 살펴보면.
포인트 가드 - 얼 와슨
슈팅 가드 - 케빈 듀란트
스몰 포워드 - 데미언 윌킨스
파워 포워드 - 크리스 윌콕스
센터 - 닉 콜리슨
얼 와슨, 루크 리드나워, 딜론테 웨스트가 경쟁하던 선발 인트 가드 자리는 일단 얼 와슨이 차지했다. 하지만 이 셋의 경쟁은 아직 끝나지 않은 것으로 보인다. 리시모 감독도 루크 리드나워가 코가 부러지는 부상으로 인해 제 컨디션이 아니기때문에 일단 얼 와슨을 선발로 내보냈다고 밝히면서 루크가 부상에서 완전히 회복된다면 다시 바뀔 수 있음을 암시했다. 어쨌거나 와슨은 기회를 잡은 셈이다. 선발로 출전하게 될 경기들에서 좋은 모습을 보여준다면 루크의 부상회복 여부와 관계없이 선발 자리를 계속 이어갈 수 있다. 물론 반대의 상황이라면 바로 벤치행이겠지만.
슈팅가드와 스몰 포워드는 케빈 듀란트와 데미언 윌킨스인데, 공격에서는 듀란트의 미스매치를 이용하고 수비에서는 윌킨스가 2번을 듀란트가 3번을 맡는 포메이션이 될 것 같다. 발목 부상으로 개막전 출전이 불투명했던 듀란트는 출전하는데 별 어려움이 없을 전망. 데미언 윌킨스는 소닉스 스윙맨들 중에서는 수비가 제일 좋고 프리시즌 동안 진일보한 공격력을 보여주면서 선발자리를 꿰차게 되었다.
파워 포워드와 센터는 지난 시즌에 이어 다시 크리스 윌콕스-닉 콜리슨이 맡게 되었다. 프리시즌 중반까지만 해도 윌콕스 혹은 콜리슨을 센터로 쓰는 일은 없을 것이라고 말했었지만, 로버트 스위프트의 부상 후유증과 페트로, 세네의 지지부진한 성장으로 인해 콜리슨이 다시 센터자리를 맡게 되었다. 컷트 토마스도 잔부상이 좀 있는 것 같고. 로버트 스위프트가 적응기를 거치고 정상가동이 되는 1월달쯤이 되면 변화가 있을 법도 하지만 그때까지는 콜리슨이 선발 센터로 나설 것 같다.
이제 선발 라인업도 정해졌겠다. 앞만 보고 달리는 일만 남았네. 개인적으로 올해 35승 예상해본다.
The strength of the 2007-08 Seattle SuperSonics has already been established: depth. On the eve of the season tipping off in Denver (7:30 p.m., FSN/ESPN, KTTH 770 AM), SUPERSONICS.COM takes a position-by-position look at the talent available to Head Coach P.J. Carlesimo.
"Really, we just kind of seized on the fact that - in my opinion - Luke's been struggling with the mask," said Carlesimo. "Delonte, like Jeff, we've played at two different positions. Earl's the one that's had the most reps by far at point. I think that was just the correct move. Let's start the year with him playing. Let's give Luke time to get rid of the mask or get more comfortable with it. I think that will give us the early rotation for us to watch. We'll let it go for a while and then we'll look at a different rotation a little bit further on."
All three point guards have demonstrated the ability to push the basketball, which will be important as the Sonics emphasize the transition game under Carlesimo. Watson and West have each averaged 6.3 assists per game, while Ridnour handed out 5.6 assists per game during the preseason. In large part thanks to the efforts of the point guards, the Sonics ranked seventh in the NBA in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.25) in preseason play.
Each brings the Sonics slightly different skills. Watson is the best on-ball defender of the group, putting pressure on opposing ballhandlers. He averaged 2.0 steals during the preseason and has the ability to create havoc with his ballhawking ability. West's relentlessness in attacking the basket and getting to the paint off of pick-and-rolls gives the Sonics a new dimension at the point. Though injuries limited his practice time in October, West used his instincts to average 16.0 points on 49.1% shooting in preseason play. Ridnour is the best ballhandler of the three and showed that off during exhibition play, posting a 4.33 assist-to-turnover ratio that was good for fourth in the league.
Shooting Guard/Small Forward
Throughout training camp, Carlesimo has faced questions from reporters about whether rookie Kevin Durant would play shooting guard or small forward. In response, Carlesimo has regularly noted that the two positions are largely interchangeable in his system, varying primarily on offense in which side of the floor they run their plays. Positions will matter to some extent on defense, but that's more an issue of matchups than anything else.
Officially, however, Durant will be listed as a shooting guard, where he also played during the NBA Summer League. During the preseason, Durant flashed the special talent that made him the No. 2 overall pick, averaging a team-high 18.8 points per game. Fellow rookie Jeff Green started three games and averaged 9.0 points and 3.4 rebounds per game. While marveling at the potential of the two rookies, the Sonics want to avoid putting too much pressure on them. The veterans on the wings will help in that process.
Damien Wilkins can now be placed in that veteran group, entering his fourth season with the Sonics. Wilkins stepped up with a strong effort during training camp and the preseason to claim the starting job opposite Durant. Wilkins' defense on the perimeter is invaluable to the Sonics, but he has developed his offensive game and averaged 9.8 points in the preseason, including a 27-point outburst against Golden State.
For now, Wally Szczerbiak figures to bring scoring punch as well as veteran presence off the bench. The team's most experienced perimeter player, Szczerbiak averaged 12.7 points per game during the preseason. He showed off the silky touch that has made him one of the NBA's most efficient scorers, hitting 40.9% of his attempts from downtown.
While West will start out in the rotation as the backup at point guard, he is sure to see some time at shooting guard as well at some point this season. At 6-3, West isn't a good matchup for the league's bigger shooting guards, but he can give the Sonics a different look against small backcourts. Mickaël Gelabale put up 15 points on 5-of-6 shooting against Portland and gives the Sonics another fine perimeter defender.
Midway through the preseason, Carlesimo termed power forward the team's best position. In Nick Collison and Chris Wilcox, the Sonics have two veterans who have provided solid preseason play - though the duo, which started at power forward and center over the final three months of the 2006-07 season, will also play regular minutes together.
Combined, Wilcox and Collison averaged 25.7 points and 16.9 rebounds per game during the preseason, finishing first (Collison) and second on the team in the latter category. Wilcox should flourish in the transition game the Sonics are emphasizing, and he made 68.7% of his shots during the preseason. Collison's steady play, his post defense and his glass-cleaning ability makes him an asset at either frontcourt position.
"There's just an element of stability when they're on the floor," Carlesimo said. "We're better across the board - we're better defensively, we're better at rebounding, we're better offensively, we're better running. There's not an area of the game where we're not better in when one of them at least isn't on the floor. It's been very noticeable the times when one of them hasn't been in."
Collison and veteran Kurt Thomas give the Sonics a different look at the center position. Both are skilled post defenders and have the ability to stretch the floor with their shooting. Thomas showed that off against his old team, Phoenix, last Friday when he scored 19 points on 8-of-12 shooting and grabbed seven rebounds in just 21 minutes of action.
Youngsters Johan Petro and Mouhamed Sene give Carlesimo still more options in the middle. Petro is the most active of the team's big men and has seen some time at power forward during the preseason. He averaged 3.4 points and 4.0 rebounds during the preseason, often finding himself in foul trouble. Sene showed his development from his rookie year in exhibition play, including a 15-rebound, four-block outing at Indiana.
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