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4 Seattle Supersonics Patrick Ewing will get plenty of shots in Seattle, but not the one he wants--a shot at a ring

Oct. 30, 2000
Oct. 30, 2000

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Oct. 30, 2000

NBA Preview 2000-01

4 Seattle Supersonics Patrick Ewing will get plenty of shots in Seattle, but not the one he wants--a shot at a ring

It was a moment that 76ers coach Larry Brown could only dream
about. On the day of his fourth practice with the SuperSonics,
Patrick Ewing strolled into Seattle's practice facility at 10
a.m.--an hour early, he thought--only to find the rest of his new
teammates already on the floor. The workout, it turned out, had
been moved up an hour that day. So what was Ewing's reaction? An
Iversonian shrug? A petulant, what-me-worry stare? Hardly. He
scurried onto the court, apologizing so profusely to coach Paul
Westphal that he sounded more like a scared rookie than a 16-year
veteran. "I'm so sorry I was late, Coach!" Ewing said. "That's
not like me."

This is an article from the Oct. 30, 2000 issue Original Layout

"What a great thing," Westphal says. "When the young guys see
Patrick sweating about being a minute late when he thought he was
an hour early, it sends a message to everybody else."

Granted, the vision of Ewing in Sonics green is as odd as the
swoopy red-and-purple titanium of the new EMP building down the
street from KeyArena, but his towering presence in the Sonics
lineup is a welcome sight to Seattleites. "We've had a lot of
good teams here, but there has always been an attempt to
overcompensate for the fact that we haven't had a true center,"
says general manager Wally Walker. "Patrick is still, in our
opinion, one of the top half dozen centers in the league."

But what role will Ewing, who saw his field goal attempts decline
in each of his last three full seasons with New York, have with
Seattle, a team that relied primarily on fast-twitch muscles last
season? A big one, says Westphal: "I expect him to play 32
minutes a game, give or take a little depending on the situation.
Patrick will have some big-scoring games, and other times he
won't get too many shots. The main thing he brings is a genuine
low-post threat and the ability to hit the shot from 17 to 18
feet."

In the Western Conference, though, Ewing faces a whole new set of
obstacles. His only true nemesis in the East was the Heat's
Alonzo Mourning, but this season he'll have to play four games
each against the Spurs' David Robinson and the Lakers' Shaquille
O'Neal. "The West has a lot of the league's top centers, so it's
going to be a challenge for me night in and night out," Ewing
says. "I'm going to have to bring my hard hat."

Ewing's arrival set in motion a domino effect that gives the
Sonics one of the NBA's biggest starting lineups. Vin Baker,
unconvincing last season as a 6'11" center, returns to power
forward, his natural position. "Getting Patrick is a big
opportunity for Vin to get back to his old self," says point
guard Gary Payton. "The old Vin was always moving, finding ways
to get open for his 20 and 10 and never worrying about people in
the paper saying he was overweight. Once Pat gets doubled up,
that's going to leave Vin open at the high post for his shot."

In turn, 6'10" Rashard Lewis, who averaged 14.6 points over the
final 12 games in 1999-2000, will slide to small forward. He
replaces Ruben Patterson, who becomes the Sonics' sixth man,
while rim-rattling rookie Desmond Mason, the MVP of the Shaw's
Pro Summer League and a former Oklahoma State star, has the
inside track on the shooting guard spot over Brent Barry.

Ewing believes that lineup can bring him the NBA title that has
eluded him for 15 years. "It's strange wearing the green and
seeing SONICS on my chest," Ewing says, "but as far as I'm
concerned, the sky's the limit."

In any case, after Seattle's first-round playoff exit against
Utah last season, the Sonics clearly couldn't stand pat. Whether
Ewing can stand up to the Western Conference remains to be
seen.

--Grant Wahl

COLOR PHOTO: JOHN W. MCDONOUGH EW THE MAN Ewing has impressed the Seattle brass with his work ethic and the example he's set for his younger teammates.

In Fact

Two players have been traded after scoring more career points
than Patrick Ewing's 23,665: Elvin Hayes (24,547), whom the
Bullets sent to the Rockets in 1981, and Wilt Chamberlain
(25,434), whom the 76ers dealt to the Lakers in 1968.

Projected Lineup

STARTERS 1999-2000 KEY STATS
PVR*

SF Rashard Lewis 8.2 ppg 4.1 rpg 0.9 apg 48.6 FG% 33.3 3FG%
99

PF Vin Baker 16.6 ppg 7.7 rpg 1.9 apg 45.5 FG% 68.2 FT%
51

C Patrick Ewing[1] 15.0 ppg 9.7 rpg 1.35 bpg 46.6 FG% 73.1 FT%
30

SG Desmond Mason(R) 18.0 ppg 6.6 rpg 1.5 apg 49.9 FG% 43.0 3FG%
104

PG Gary Payton 24.2 ppg 8.9 apg 6.5 rpg 1.87 spg 44.8 FG%
4

BENCH 1999-2000 KEY STATS
PVR*

F Ruben Patterson 11.6 ppg 5.4 rpg 1.6 apg 1.16 spg 53.6 FG%
147

G Brent Barry 11.8 ppg 4.7 rpg 1.29 spg 46.3 FG% 41.1 3FG%
187

C Jelani McCoy[1] 4.3 ppg 3.1 rpg 0.79 bpg 57.6 FG% 49.5 FT%
252

F Dickey Simpkins[1] 4.2 ppg 5.4 rpg 1.4 apg 40.5 FG% 54.2 FT%
268

G Shammond Williams 5.2 ppg 1.8 apg 1.2 rpg 37.3 FG% 29.6 3FG%
274

[1]New acquisition (R) Rookie (statistics for final college year)
*PVR: Player Value Ranking (explanation on page 113)

THE BOOK
an opposing team's scout sizes up the Sonics

"A hit-or-miss team. The Sonics either make the playoffs as, say,
a six seed, or they don't jell and have a disastrous year....
Desmond Mason was very underrated in the draft. Defensively he's
a knockout, a strong, dive-on-the-floor kind of guy. He and Gary
Payton are going to be tough together in the backcourt. Throw in
Ruben Patterson and Rashard Lewis, and this is an athletic team
that should defend well on the perimeter.... They should expect
Patrick Ewing to play between 50 and 60 games. If he gives them
more, fine, but they want him to have something left for the
playoffs. He reaches more now on defense because he's lost
quickness, but he can still give you more offensively than he
gives up defensively.... Seattle doesn't have much in the way of
big men off the bench.... Vin Baker looks in pretty good shape,
and now that Ewing's there, Baker won't have to bang with centers
as much. He could have a big year.... The keys to beating them
will be to attack inside and take care of the ball against their
pressure."