Seattle Supersonics Getting Inside 2008-06-30

By taking UCLA product Russell Westbrook with the No. 4 overall pick, the Sonics added another building block to the foundation already established in 2007 when Seattle drafted Kevin Durant and Jeff Green in the first five picks.

The Sonics had six picks, but as expected general manager Sam Presti made some moves. The Sonics took a flyer with their 24th pick in the first round on Serge Ibaka from the Congo, an athletic, 6-foot-10 power forward. The 18-year-old from the Congo will continue to play in Spain with team scouts monitoring his development.

The Sonics used its 32nd and 46th picks in a trade with Detroit to pick up the Pistons' 29th pick, D.J. White, a 6-9, 250-pound bruiser out of Indiana.

And Seattle took another big man with the 50th overall pick, selecting Cal center DeVon Hardin. The Sonics used their last pick, No. 56, to select yet another big guy, 6-11 center Alexander Kaun. However, the Sonics sent Kaun to Cleveland for cash considerations.

With the draft picks Seattle has 15 players in the fold heading into the beginning of free agency on July 1, leaving an expectation that Presti isn't done reshaping the roster before training camp begins in October.

The Sonics introduced Westbrook and the rest of the team's draft picks at the team's practice facility on June 27.

Westbrook, 19, said he spoke to Durant soon after the Sonics drafted him and expects to fit in well with the reigning Rookie of the Year and the rest of his teammates.

"We're both young players," Westbrook said about playing with Durant. "I know he's a great scorer. He was the Rookie of the Year, and I know he's going to do some great things in this league."

White, 21, gives Seattle another option at power forward. The 6-foot-9 Hoosier was the Big Ten player of the year and earned consensus second-team All-America honors as a senior. At the press conference White appeared fit and ready to contribute for the Sonics and said he looks forward to showing what he can do.

"I think I'll fit in well," White said. "I add another scoring threat up front. I can score on the block as well as rebounding and playing tough. That's basically what I do, and I feel I'll help out in those areas."

Talented but unpolished, Hardin, 22, finished as Cal's second all-time leading shot-blocker. The 6-11 senior said playing against Brook and Robin Lopez at Stanford and Kevin Love at UCLA helped prepare him for the type of frontcourt talent he'll face in the NBA.

"Seeing the Lopez twins go high in the draft, I expect them to do well this season," Hardin said. "And the fact that I competed with them, I feel like I can compete here, too."

But the headliner was Westbrook, who has no illusions why the Sonics picked him at No. 4.

"The biggest thing for me is defense," Westbrook said. "That's what I pride myself after. Just coming out and locking people up. And that's what I'm going to try to do to help this team win."

The Sonics hope Westbrook's off-the-chart athleticism translates into the combo guard developing into one of the best defensive stoppers in the league -- similar to what Bruce Bowen has become for the Spurs.

"He's not going to be Bruce Bowen this year, but he's got length," coach P.J. Carlesimo said. "You throw his wingspan on top of that, and he may be our best cover at the wing spot."

SEASON HIGHLIGHT: Playing in perhaps the last home game at Seattle's KeyArena in Sonics history last Sunday, the Sonics put on a performance to remember in a 99-95 win over the Dallas Mavericks. Seattle rookie Kevin Durant hit the game winner, a 15-foot jumper from the elbow with under a minute left. Afterwards, Sonics fans stood chanting "Save Our Sonics" for two minutes. Durant said he almost cried after the game.

TURNING POINT: Seattle started the beginning of the season on an eight-game losing streak -- a foreshadowing of the miserable season to come as the Sonics lost a franchise-record 62 games.



Author: Fox Sports
Author's Website: http://www.foxsports.com
Added: June 30, 2008