Thursday , Apr , 06 , 2006 C.Y. Ellis

Flying under the radar in Seattle

Everybody loves a bargain right? I mean who doesn’t like to get something on the cheap? That is exactly what has been going on in the great northwest, up in Seattle, the land of rain and Starbucks.

Flying under the radar in Seattle

The Seattle Sonics rookie Center Johan Petro is as good a bargain as any team could hope for, as he flies under the radar of most of the NBA up in Latte’ land. Just how good of a deal did Seattle get? A good way of answering this question is by way of a comparison.

In the 2005 Draft last June, there was little suspense leading up to the first selection overall; it was Andrew Bogut to Milwaukee, and nobody was surprised. He seemed to be the consensus pick long before draft night. We all know that talented 7 footers are at a premium in the NBA, and teams scan the 4 corners of the globe to find the next great pivot. In that same draft, three other Centers were taken as well: Channing Frye went #8 to New York; Andrew Bynum went #10 to the Lakers; and Johan Petro went #25 to Seattle. 

Each of these players are just wrapping up there first regular season in the NBA, and it is way too early in their careers to draw any lasting conclusions about their respective greatness, but the comparison of Johan (the last Center taken) and Bogut (the first) so far this season should make the bargain hunter in each of us smile.

Bogut is 21 years old; Petro just turned 20. Both players are 7’-0” and just about 245 pounds, and both started for their teams on opening night. Bogut has started 68 games this year, while Petro’s season has gone in fits and starts. Former Sonics coach Bob Weiss began to lose faith in Petro; especially his knack for getting into quick foul trouble. By the end of his first month in the NBA, Petro was out of the rotation; he only got a cameo in 4 games in December for a grand total of 18 minutes for the month. By early January, Bob Weiss had been fired and replaced with veteran NBA coach Bob Hill. Hill immediately looked down the bench and saw two young anxious 7 footers waiting for a chance (the other was 2004 lottery selection Robert Swift; himself just 20 years old). Hill quickly hitched his Sonic coaching career to these two youngsters, and plunked them into the rotation for nearly all of the 48 minutes of Center play each night. At that time Coach Hill told Seattle papers that his goal for them was a “combined” double double per night as a platoon arrangement, and of course for them to gain valuable experience and confidence. These two young guys have met and exceeded these goals; both of them have shown tremendous growth, and have played surprisingly well. Robert Swift had his nose broken in late February, and has battled an ankle injury for most of March; Petro saw his minutes increase in Swifts absence, and has really run with the opportunity. 

What really makes all of this noteworthy is the dirt cheap, bargain basement aspect of comparing Petro to Bogut. Petro’s numbers for the season and Bogut’s compared on a per 48 minute basis are not all that different.   


Where it really gets fun is when you look at the last ten games, where Petro has had a very nice little run, showing off a nice 10’ jumper and some great crunch time defense.   In the last 10, Bogut has averaged 8.8 points and 5.6 rebounds. Petro has averaged 8.6 points and 6.0 rebounds. 

As the first player chosen, and with the NBA rookie salary, Bogut will be paid $3.4 million, 3.7 million, and 4.0 million guaranteed over his first 3 seasons. In contrast, Petro as the #25 pick will be playing for $751k, 808k, and 864k for that same stretch. That is better than triple punch Tuesday at the corner espresso stand…what a steal. 

Bogut and Petro both appear to have fine long careers in the NBA; how good they become will depend on all of the usual factors: coaching, drive, commitment etc.; but Petro’s play as compared to the top pick and his Salary is the stuff that bargains are made of .