SI Vault
Grant Wahl
October 30, 2000
Patrick Ewing will get plenty of shots in Seattle, but not the one he wants—a shot at a ring
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October 30, 2000

4 Seattle Supersonics

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

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Projected Lineup



1999-2000 KEY STATS


Rashard Lewis


8.2 ppg

4.1 rpg

0.9 apg

48.6 FG%

33.3 3FG%


Vin Baker


16.6 ppg

7.7 rpg

1.9 apg

45.5 FG%

68.2 FT%


Patrick Ewing


15.0 ppg

9.7 rpg

1.35 bpg

46.6 FG%

73.1 FT%


Desmond Mason (R)


18.0 ppg

6.6 rpg

1.5 apg

49.9 FG%

43.0 3FG%


Gary Payton


24.2 ppg

8.9 apg

6.5 rpg

1.87 spg

44.8 FG%



1999-2000 KEY STATS


Ruben Patterson


11.6 ppg

5.4 rpg

1.6 apg

1.16 spg

53.6 FG%


Brent Barry


11.8 ppg

4.7 rpg

1.29 spg

46.3 FG%

41.1 3FG%


Jelani McCoy


4.3 ppg

3.1 rpg

0.79 bpg

57.6 FG%

49.5 FT%


Dickey Simpkins


4.2 ppg

5.4 rpg

1.4 apg

40.5 FG%

54.2 FT%


Shammond Williams


5.2 ppg

1.8 apg

1.2 rpg

37.3 FG%

29.6 3FG%

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

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 50 sorry I was late, Coach!" Ewing said. "That's not like me."

"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.

[This article contains a table. Please see hardcopy of magazine or PDF.]