1980-81 Seattle Supersonics Games Played/Started & Trnscs.

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1980-81 Seattle Supersonics Games Played/Started & Trnscs.

Postby MCT » Fri Jul 01, 2016 7:40 pm

This is the 21st of a series of threads analyzing games played, games started and transactions for the 1980-81 season. Before reading any further, see the introductory thread below:

viewtopic.php?f=5&t=4961

SEATTLE SUPERSONICS – PART I

SEASON OVERVIEW

The Sonics had a 34-48 record. They finished sixth and last in the Pacific Division, and tenth out of twelve teams in the Western Conference overall. The Sonics did not qualify for the playoffs.

The Sonics used 15 different players for the season, four above the minimum.

ROSTER AND TRANSACTIONS

OPENING NIGHT ROSTER

Dennis Awtrey
James Bailey
Fred Brown
James Donaldson
Bill Hanzlik
John Johnson
Vinnie Johnson
Lonnie Shelton
Jack Sikma
Wally Walker
Paul Westphal

Notable unsigned Veteran Free Agent: Gus Williams.

IN-SEASON TRANSACTIONS

In the list below, anything which is underlined is the subject of discrepancies or guesswork, or is the result of further research beyond my usual sources.

11/3/80 – Placed Paul Westphal on the injured list; traded future considerations to the Warriors for Rudy White.

11/24/80 – Placed Lonnie Shelton on the injured list; traded a 1981 3rd round pick and cash to the Spurs for John Shumate.

12/1/80 – The November 24 trade involving John Shumate was voided due to an issue with Shumate’s physical condition.

12/2/80 – Traded two 2nd round picks (1983 and 1984) and cash to the Hawks for Armond Hill.

12/16/80 – Traded a 1983 1st round pick to the Pistons for Greg Kelser; waived Rudy White.

12/17/80 – The previous day’s trade involving Greg Kelser was voided after Kelser failed his physical.

12/18/80 – Activated Paul Westphal from the injured list.

1/19/81 – Placed James Donaldson on the injured list; signed Jacky Dorsey to a 10-day contract.

1/29/81 – Signed Jacky Dorsey to a second 10-day contract.

2/3/81 – Activated James Donaldson from the injured list; placed Dennis Awtrey on the injured list.

2/9/81 – Signed Jacky Dorsey as a free agent.

2/24/81 – Placed Paul Westphal on the injured list; activated Dennis Awtrey from the injured list.

NOTES/DISCREPANCIES

Injured list transactions:

11/3/80: The Sonics acquired Rudy White from the Warriors on 11/3/80. They must have made a corresponding move on or shortly before that date to open up a roster spot. While I have no documentation of this, by all appearances the corresponding move was to put Paul Westphal on the injured list. Westphal did not appear in any games between 10/25/80 and 12/22/80, and I have documentation that he was activated from the injured list on 12/18/80 (so he obviously has to have been placed on the IL at some point prior to that). The Google News Archive has numerous newspaper articles from late October and early November stating that Westphal was out with a foot injury, but I couldn’t find anything explicitly stating that he was being placed on the injured list. There was nothing in the transactions column in the Globe.

11/24/80: The Sonics acquired John Shumate from the Spurs on 11/24/80. They must have made a corresponding move on or shortly before that date to open up a roster spot. While I have no documentation of this, by all appearances the corresponding move was to put Lonnie Shelton on the injured list. Shelton did not appear in any games after 11/12/80. The Google News Archive has numerous newspaper articles from the period after 11/12 indicating that Shelton was having surgery to address a wrist injury and was out for the season, but I couldn’t find anything explicitly stating that he was being placed on the injured list. There was nothing in the transactions column in the Globe.

12/18/80: Westphal was activated from the injured list, filling the spot left open by the Greg Kelser trade having been voided. Westphal’s activation was in the transactions column in the following day’s (12/19) Globe, and is also in several 12/19 newspapers in the Google News Archive.

1/19/81: The Sonics signed Jacky Dorsey to a 10-day contract on 1/19/81. They must have made a corresponding move to open up a roster spot. I have no documentation of such a move in any of my usual sources, but several 1/20 newspapers in the Google News Archive report that it was to place James Donaldson on the injured list. Donaldson was absent from five consecutive games from 1/20/81 through 1/28/81 (the last five games before the All-Star break), which is the minimum number of games that a player placed on the IL was required to sit out. The transactions column in the 1/20 Globe had Dorsey’s signing, but did not mention Donaldson being placed on the IL.

2/3/81: According to several 2/4 newspapers in the Google News Archive, the Sonics activated James Donaldson and placed Dennis Awtrey on the IL. The 2/4 Globe transactions column had Awtrey being placed on the injured list, but not Donaldson being activated.

2/24/81: Awtrey returned to action on 2/24, so he must have been activated from the injured list at some point, and a corresponding move to open up a roster spot must have also been made. By all appearances, the corresponding move was to place Paul Westphal on the injured list. Westphal did not play in any games after 2/17. I can’t find any documentation of either Westphal being placed on the IL or Awtrey being activated from it, however. There was nothing in the Globe transactions column, and I can’t find anything in the Google News Archive, either. Lacking any better information, I am guessing that these moves were made on the date when Awtrey began playing again (2/24). For what it’s worth, the Archive does have an AP wire service story in the 2/28 Spokane (Wash.) Spokesman-Review reporting that, at that point, Westphal had been declared out for the season.

Rudy White:

Modern reference sources show that the Sonics traded a 1981 4th round pick to the Warriors for White, but articles and transactions columns in several 11/4/80 newspapers in the Google News Archive show that White was traded for “future considerations”. What the Warriors would receive for White may have been contingent on how long he stuck with the Sonics (the Sonics released White in December, and he never played in the NBA again after that). The 1981-82 NBA Register, published just a few months after the 1980-81 season ended, was already showing the 1981 4th round pick, so the determination had been made by then.

The transactions columns in several 11/4 newspapers in the Google News Archive report White both being traded from the Warriors to the Sonics, and signing a one-year contract with the Sonics. I assume that the Sonics signed him to a new contract upon acquiring him. Confusingly, however, several papers in the Google News Archive have an AP wire service story on the 11/3/80 Sonics-Cavaliers game which reports White being “signed” earlier in the day, with no mention that he was first acquired from the Warriors in a trade. A reader unaware of the earlier transaction might assume that White had been signed as a free agent after having been waived by his previous team. Along similar lines, the transactions column in the 11/4 Globe included White signing with the Sonics, but not being traded there from the Warriors.

John Shumate:

After being acquired on 11/24/80, Shumate was returned to the Spurs on 12/1/80. While it’s not unheard of for a trade to be rescinded, this one was unusual because the trade wasn’t reversed until a week later, and Shumate actually appeared in a couple of games for the Sonics during the interim. Shumate’s return to the Spurs was reported in the transactions column in the 12/2 Globe, and the Google News Archive has reports covering it from the 12/2 editions of several papers. The most extensive article in the Archive, from the Miami News, states that “the deal hinged on Shumate’s passing an extensive physical, which began Friday [11/28] and concluded yesterday [12/1]”. The article notes that Shumate “suffers from recurring blood clots in the lungs”, and that the Sonics’ team doctor “didn’t feel (Shumate) was ready to play”.

At first glance, it seems very odd to rescind a trade for a player not passing a physical 1) a week after the trade occurred, and 2) after the player has already appeared in games for his new team. The comments about Shumate needing to pass an “extensive physical” make me think this was something special negotiated as part of the trade agreement between the two teams, however, not your standard physical for a newly acquired player. Shumate had experienced major health issues in the past, having previously missed three entire seasons during his college and NBA careers. The Spurs subsequently waived Shumate. Whatever the issue was with Shumate’s health, it was apparently serious enough to scare other teams from picking him up. Even though he had been starting for the Spurs up until the time of the trade, Shumate never played in the NBA again after this.

It is well documented that the Sonics gave up a 3rd round pick and cash to get Shumate. This is how the trade is reported in the NBA Register, in the transactions column in the following day’s Globe, and in several other newspapers in the Google News Archive. There are some wonky descriptions in various other sources, however:

--b.r.com mentions the pick but not the cash. In my experience, it is fairly common for descriptions of trades to omit “minor” elements of the trade, and b-r.com seems to do this more than most. I suspect that is what is happening here.

--The Spurs Media Guide oddly mentions the cash but not the pick. I am thinking they may have omitted the pick under the theory that the pick was never exercised. Note that there is no mention of the trade subsequently being reversed, so omitting the pick may be correcting for the fact that the Spurs didn’t get it in the end. But I would think the same would apply to the cash; I presume it was returned when the trade was voided, along with the pick.

--pst.com hedges its bets by having two different sets of entries for this trade, one showing both the pick and the cash, one showing cash only (the latter likely sourced from the Spurs Media Guide). There are then two sets of entries showing both versions of the trade being rescinded on 12/1.

--When the trade was voided, it’s b-r.com’s turn to have two sets of entries. One version shows the 11/24 trade in reverse on 12/1, with no explicit statement that this represents a voiding of the original trade, followed by the Spurs waiving Shumate on 12/2 (which I believe is correct). The other version shows the Sonics waiving Shumate on 12/1 (which I don’t think is correct).

Armond Hill:

It is well documented that the Sonics gave up two 2nd round picks and cash to get Hill. This is how the trade is reported in the NBA Register, in the Hawks Media Guide, in the 2002-03 Sonics Media Guide, in the transactions column in the following day’s Globe, and in several other newspapers in the Google News Archive. b-r.com, however, mentions the picks but not the cash. As noted above in the discussion of the John Shumate trade, in my experience it is fairly common for descriptions of trades to omit “minor” elements of the trade, and b-r.com seems to do this more than most. I suspect that is what is happening here.

Greg Kelser:

Prior to doing my Globe research, I was unaware that the voided trade of Kelser to the Sonics had ever happened. (The NBA Register showed rescinded trades later on, in the ‘90s and ‘00s, but not in this era.) The Globe reported the trade in the transactions column its 12/17 edition. I also found additional newspapers in the Google News Archive reporting the trade in their 12/17 editions. This suggests that the trade happened on 12/16/80.

The trade being voided never appeared in the Globe transactions column, but I found two newspapers in the Google News Archive reporting it in their 12/18 editions (the Milwaukee Journal and the Eugene (Ore.) Register-Guard), suggesting that this happened on 12/17. The Google News Archive also has two newspapers with an AP wire service report in their 12/19 editions on Kelser being subsequently placed on the IL which mentions Kelser failing his physical and the trade being voided on “Wednesday”, which would be 12/17 (the Milwaukee Journal again, and the Lewiston (Me.) Daily Sun).

Jacky Dorsey:

Dorsey initially joined the Sonics on 1/19/81 on a 10-day contract. This was reported in the transactions column in the following day’s (1/20) Globe, and is also in several 1/20 papers in the Google News Archive. This is also in pst.com (although it is the only transaction pst.com has concerning Dorsey’s stay with the Sonics).

While I can find no documentation of it, Dorsey must have signed a second 10-day deal about ten days after the first one, because he continues to appear in box scores beyond the point where the first 10-day deal would have expired.

On 2/9/81, the Sonics signed Dorsey to a longer-term contract. This was reported in the transactions column in the following day’s (2/10) Globe, and is also in several 2/10 papers in the Google News Archive. Most of these sources indicate that Dorsey was signed to a regular free agent contract running through the 1981-82 season, although a few, including the Globe, state that it was a contract for the remainder of the season. I am inclined to trust those indicating that it was a regular free agent contract running through the 1981-82 season. Their numbers exceed those reporting that it was for the remainder of the season, and assuming this is correct, those reporting the latter can be framed as inexact/incomplete more than outright wrong (if Dorsey signed a contract running through the 1981-82 season, a statement that he would be with the Sonics for the remainder of the 1980-81 season isn’t incorrect). One of the articles, from the Bangor (Me.) Daily News, goes so far as to provide the detail that Sonics officials expected Dorsey to be “in line” for a roster spot for the 1981-82 season, when NBA rosters were expected to expand back to 12 men. Dorsey was of local interest to Daily News readers because he had been playing for the Maine Lumberjacks of the CBA before the Sonics signed him. I have found a few articles confirming that Dorsey was in training camp with the Sonics in the fall of 1981, but was cut before the start of the season.

The NBA Register simply shows Dorsey signing outright with the Sonics on 1/19/81, with no mention of it being a 10-day deal or of any subsequent contracts. As we’ve discussed in previous installments in this series, the Register typically wrote things up that way whenever a player who initially joined a team on a 10-day deal stuck around for longer than that, and shouldn’t be read as inconsistent with what other sources show. b-r.com shows the same; they likely used the Register as their source.

GAMES STARTED INFO

MEDIA GUIDE

In writing this series of articles, I look for three things in team media guides to use as a source of information:

--There is typically a section with year-by-year historical statistics for each player on the team. These sections sometimes include games started totals.

--There is typically a section with an all-time player register for the team. These sections vary in their level of detail, but they sometimes include year-by-year statistics with games started totals, or information about the transactions in which the player was acquired by or departed from the team.

--There is typically a section with a historical list of transactions the team has been involved in. These lists are usually very detailed for recent years, but less so the further back you go, often only including transactions of major significance.

As far as I can see, the 2015-16 Thunder Media Guide has none of the above features. This is the first NBA team I’ve encountered whose media guide is set up this way. This may be a legacy of the franchise’s move from Seattle to Oklahoma City. If there was an agreement that the Sonics’ history would be left behind, so it could be picked up by a new team in the future, the Thunder may have decided not to include this type of historical information in the their media guide.

From a Google search, I found that the Thunder still have the Sonics Media Guide from the franchise’s last season in Seattle (2006-07) posted on their web site. Unfortunately, the “History” section, which would contain most of the information I’m looking for, is missing (it’s on the list, but it’s a dead link):

http://www.nba.com/thunder/news/media_guide_0607.html

From a further Google search, I discovered that the 2002-03 Sonics Media Guide is still posted on the NBA’s media web site. The History section is intact. While it does have a historical list of transactions, which I referred to in writing this article, as far as I can see there was no historical games started data anywhere in the guide:

http://www.nba.com/media/mediacentral/0203MG_SEA_07.pdf

The end result of all this: for games started data for the 1980-81 Sonics, we don’t have a media guide source, so we will need to rely solely on the TSN box scores.

TSN BOX SCORES

All but three of the TSN box scores for the 1980-81 Sonics appear to list the players in “starters first” F-F-C-G-G order. The three exceptions were games on 1/10/81, 1/25/81, and 3/13/81.

--In the 1/10/81 box score, the first five players look like the expected starters, but with center Jack Sikma in the fifth position rather than the third position.

--In the 1/25/81 box score, the first four names look like they could be in “starters first” order (Bailey, John Johnson, Sikma, Vinnie Johnson), but the fifth makes no sense at all (Awtrey at what would be a G slot). The sixth player, however, would make sense as a starting guard (Fred Brown). It’s possible that Awtrey and Brown are listed out of order.

---In the 3/13/81 box score, the first five players listed look like the expected starters, but with a couple out of order (Hanzlik is shown in the C slot, Sikma in a G slot).

For the game on 1/10, I am assuming the first five players listed in the box score were the starters, at their usual positions. Three of these players were in the midst of a lengthy stretch where the TSN box scores show them starting every other game (Bailey, Sikma, and Westphal), so there seems no reason to think they wouldn’t have started this game. Of the others, John Johnson is shown starting the previous game, but not the next one. Looking at the bigger picture, however, Johnson is shown starting every game of the season up to this point, did not play in the next two games, is shown coming off the bench in the two games after that, then is shown returning to the starting lineup. Against that backdrop, it would make sense that he started on 1/10; he likely didn’t start the next game because he got injured during or following the game 1/10. The final player is Hill. Hill is shown starting the previous seven games and the next two that followed, so it would make sense that he started on 1/10.

For the game on 1/25, I am assuming that Awtrey and Brown are listed out of order, and that the first four players plus Brown were the five starters. Each of these players except Brown is shown starting at least the three previous games, and is shown starting almost every other game for the rest of the season. Based on the TSN box scores, Brown didn’t start regularly around this time. But he is shown starting the previous game, so it is certainly plausible that he could have started the game on 1/25.

For the game on 3/13, I am assuming the first five players listed in the box score were the starters, at their usual positions. Four of the five players (John Johnson, James Bailey, Jack Sikma, Vinnie Johnson) were in the midst of a lengthy stretch where the TSN box scores show them starting every other game, so there seems no reason to think they wouldn’t have started this game. The fifth player is Bill Hanzlik. During this part of the season, that starting slot was switching back and forth a lot between Hanzlik and Armond Hill. But the TSN box scores show Hanzlik starting the previous seven games before this one, as well as the game that followed, so it makes sense that he would have started this game.

NOTES/DISCREPANCIES

From the TSN box scores, after making the assumptions discussed above, I am getting the following games started totals for the season:

Sikma 82
J. Johnson 77
Bailey 69
V. Johnson 65
Hanzlik 35
Westphal 26
Hill 20
Brown 16
Shelton 13
Walker 4
Donaldson 3

As with the other teams for which we have no media guide numbers, I’m pretty confident that the games started numbers I’m coming up with are at least good estimates. But there are a number of anomalies in the TSN boxes that I wish I had a media guide to square up with. Without media guide numbers to compare to, it’s hard to hold my games started numbers out as exact.
Last edited by MCT on Thu Sep 14, 2017 8:02 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: 1980-81 Seattle Supersonics Games Played/Started & Trnsc

Postby MCT » Fri Jul 01, 2016 7:49 pm

SEATTLE SUPERSONICS – PART II

PLAYER INFORMATION

Players are listed based on a snapshot as of late February, after Paul Westphal had played in his last game of the season. This version of the roster has Dennis Awtrey on the active roster and Westphal on the injured list, with Bill Hanzlik starting in what had been Westphal’s starting guard slot.

One could argue that it would be better to bend the rules a bit in terms of timeframe, and select a snapshot roster with Westphal as a starting guard. Westphal was clearly the intended starter at one guard slot, and when healthy, could fairly be labeled as one of the most important players on the team. But Westphal only played in 36 games (none after 2/17), and the TSN box scores show him starting only 26 (none after 2/6). I usually only bend the rules if a roster from the usual timeframe is in some way not typical, or just doesn’t represent a sensible way to look at the team. Westphal spent enough time out of the lineup that I think the notion that this standard is met only by a snapshot with Westphal on the active roster is a borderline argument at best.

The simplest way to select a snapshot with Westphal on the active roster would be to pick one from late January or early-to-mid February, which would put Dennis Awtrey on the injured list. But Awtrey played in more games than Westphal did (47), and was on the active roster for the entire season outside of this period, making him much more of a typical (albeit less important) part of the Sonics’ roster than Westphal was. Another possibility would be to back things up before the point when Jacky Dorsey was signed, bumping Dorsey from the active roster. But again, while certainly a less important player than Westphal, Dorsey was on the Sonics’ active roster more-or-less continuously from 1/19/81 onward. I don’t think there is any other player with a similar profile who I haven’t included in his team’s snapshot lineup. No solution is really perfect, but I think sticking with a late February lineup with Awtrey and Dorsey on the active roster and Westphal on the IL best meets the “typical” and “sensible way to look at the team” criteria.

If we use a lineup with Westphal on the injured list, who replaces him as starter? In the wake of Westphal’s disappearance from the starting lineup in early February, his place was taken by rookie Bill Hanzlik. For the season as whole, the TSN box scores show Hanzlik starting 35 games at guard, more than Westphal and the second-most on the team. This includes 20 of the 28 games played after Westphal is shown making his last start of the season on 2/6. On the other hand, for the season as a whole, Hanzlik averaged just 17.0 minutes per game and just 5.4 points per game. There also seems to have been some wavering down the stretch as to whether to start Hanzlik or Armond Hill. Again, no solution is perfect, but I think it makes the most sense to take things as we find them in late February and go with Hanzlik as the starter.

JACK SIKMA

History: 1st round pick of Sonics in 1977.

Games Played (Regular Season 82 G, 35.6 MPG): Sikma appeared in every game the Sonics played.

Games Started (Regular Season: 82): The TSN box scores show Sikma starting every game the Sonics played. Sikma is shown making 79 starts at center and 3 at forward. The three games he is shown starting at forward were on 10/25/80 (regular starter John Johnson shifted to guard), 3/24/81 (in place of Johnson, for reasons that are not obvious to me, as Johnson did play in the game), and 3/27/81 (in place of regular starter James Bailey, for reasons that are not obvious to me, as Bailey did play in the game).

b-r.com position info: Position in old b-r.com header is listed as Center-Forward. Primary position is shown as C for all seasons of career.

JOHN JOHNSON

History: 1st round pick of Cavaliers in 1970. Acquired in trade with Rockets, October 1977.

Games Played (Regular Season 80 G, 29.1 MPG): The two games in which Johnson did not appear were two consecutive games on 1/11/81 & 1/13/81.

Games Started (Regular Season: 77): The three games the TSN box scores show Johnson playing in but not starting were two consecutive games on 1/16/81 & 1/18/81 (immediately following the two games he had not played in on 1/11 & 1/13), and one additional game on 3/24/81. Why Johnson wouldn’t have started on 3/24 isn’t readily apparent to me. The box score shows him coming off the bench while regular starting center Jack Sikma moves over to start at forward.

Johnson is shown making 75 starts at forward and 2 at guard. The two games he is shown starting at guard were on 10/25/80 and 11/12/80. Why Johnson would have been shifted to guard for those two games in not entirely clear to me. The game on 10/25 was the Sonics’ ninth game of the season. Johnson occupied a starting slot that had been held (according to the TSN box scores) by Vinnie Johnson for the first four games of the season, then by Fred Brown for the next four. This starting slot had presumably been earmarked for Gus Williams, who became a Veteran Free Agent at the end of the 1979-80 season, but couldn’t come to terms on a new contract, and sat out the entire 1980-81 season. Perhaps the Sonics still weren’t sure who to start in Williams’ absence, and decided to try shifting John Johnson there. For the next game, Paul Westphal (the other starting guard) apparently went out with an injury. Any experiment with starting John Johnson at guard seems to have been cut short at that point; the TSN box scores show the Sonics moving John Johnson back to forward and going with a starting backcourt of Vinnie Johnson and Fred Brown. For the game on 11/12, however, John Johnson is shown starting at guard in place of Brown, who is shown playing off the bench.

b-r.com position info: Position in old b-r.com header is listed as Forward. Primary position is shown as SF for all seasons of career.

JAMES BAILEY

History: 1st round pick of Sonics in 1979.

Games Played (Regular Season 82 G, 31.0 MPG): Bailey appeared in every game the Sonics played.

Games Started (Regular Season: 69): Based on the TSN box scores, Bailey typically came off the bench in the early part of the season, then moved into the starting lineup in November after Lonnie Shelton was lost for the season to an injury. Bailey’s first few starts came before Shelton went out for the season, however. Shelton may have already been struggling with injuries at that point.

Bailey is shown starting two consecutive games on 10/22/80 & 10/24/80 (Shelton didn’t play on 10/22, then came off the bench on 10/24), then two consecutive games on 11/3/80 & 11/5/80 (Shelton did not play in either game), then 65 of the 66 games from 11/12/80 on. The game on 11/12 was Shelton’s last game of the season. Bailey is shown starting that game alongside Shelton, in place of the other regular starting forward, John Johnson, who is shown starting that game at guard. For the next game, Johnson is shown returning to forward, and Bailey starting opposite him, taking over for Shelton. The only game after 11/12 that the TSN box scores do not show Bailey starting was on 3/27/81 (the second-to-last game of the season). The TSN box score shows Sikma shifting to forward and Bailey coming off the bench, for reasons that are not obvious to me.

b-r.com position info: Position in old b-r.com header is listed as Forward-Center. Primary position is shown as PF for all seasons of career.

VINNIE JOHNSON

History: 1st round pick of Sonics in 1979.

Games Played (Regular Season 81 G, 28.5 MPG): The only game in which Johnson did not appear was on 1/2/81.

Games Started (Regular Season: 65): The TSN box scores show Johnson starting the first four games of the season (through 10/15/80); 26 consecutive games from 10/26/80 through 12/22/80; and the final 35 games of the season (from 1/20/81 on).

Heading into the season, the Sonics likely envisioned a starting backcourt tandem of Gus Williams and Paul Westphal. But Williams, who became a Veteran Free Agent at the end of the 1979-80 season, couldn’t come to terms on a new contract, and sat out the entire 1980-81 season. Johnson started the first four games of the season in what presumably had been intended as Williams’ starting slot. Johnson then went to the bench for the next five games, most of which were started by Fred Brown. Johnson returned to the starting lineup on 10/26/80, after Westphal had gone out with an injury and the Sonics turned over both starting guard slots. Johnson remained in the starting lineup for the next 26 games. In the early part of this period, Johnson started alongside Brown; later, Brown was replaced by Bill Hanzlik. When Westphal was ready to return to starting, on 12/26/80, the Sonics again changed out both starting backcourt slots, starting Armond Hill alongside Westphal, and sending Johnson and Hanzlik back to the bench. After a gap of twelve games, Johnson returned to the starting lineup again on 1/20/81, initially displacing Hill. Johnson started every game of the season from that point onward.

b-r.com position info: Position in old b-r.com header is listed as Guard. Primary position is shown as PG for 1980-81, but is SG for all other seasons of career.

BILL HANZLIK

History: 1st round pick of Sonics in 1980.

Games Played (Regular Season 74 G, 17.0 MPG): The eight games in which Hanzlik did not appear were 10/10/81 (opening night); two consecutive games on 10/18/80 & 10/20/80; 11/12/80; 12/27/80; 1/25/81; and two consecutive games on 2/22/81 & 2/24/81.

Games Started (Regular Season: 35): The 35 games the TSN box scores show Hanzlik starting were 14 games in a 15-game stretch from 11/21/80 through 12/22/80 (all except the game on 12/14/80); a single game on 1/16/81; 9 consecutive games from 2/7/81 through 2/20/81; 7 consecutive games from 3/4/81 through 3/15/81; and three of the last four games of the season, from 3/22/81 on (the game in this stretch that Hanzlik is not shown starting was on 3/24/81). All of the starts the TSN box scores show Hanzlik making were at guard.

Hanzlik’s initial appearances as a starter in the TSN box scores, in November and December, were during a period when season-opening starter Paul Westphal was out with an injury. Hanzlik is shown making all of those starts alongside Vinnie Johnson (Armond Hill is shown starting the game Hanzlik isn’t on 12/14). When Westphal was ready to return to starting, on 12/26, the TSN box scores show the Sonics changing out both starting backcourt slots, starting Hill alongside Westphal, and sending both Johnson and Hanzlik back to the bench. Just as Hill is shown starting one game in place of Hanzlik on 12/14, even though Hanzlik played in that game, Hanzlik is later shown starting one game in place of Hill on 1/16, even though Hill played in that game. That is the only start Hanzlik is shown making all season alongside Westphal. Every other game he is shown starting is in the slot that presumably would have been occupied by Westphal had Westphal been healthy.

The TSN box scores show Hanzlik returning to the starting lineup on 2/7, the third game after the All-Star break, again as a replacement for Westphal, who did not start any further games. By that time, according to the TSN boxes, Vinnie Johnson had taken over for Hill again in the other starting guard slot, a role Johnson would hold down for the remainder of the season. Hanzlik is shown starting the next nine games, a stretch that was ended by the two games Hanzlik didn’t play in on 2/22 & 2/24. Armond Hill is shown starting those two games in Hanzlik’s absence, and the next three after that (while Hanzlik came off the bench). Hanzlik is then shown returning to the starter’s role. The remainder of the season would see Hanzlik and Hill swap places a couple of additional times. Overall, Hanzlik is shown starting 20 of the 28 games remaining in the season after the point when Westphal dropped out of the starting lineup.

b-r.com position info: Position in old b-r.com header is listed as Guard-Forward. Primary position is shown as SF for all seasons in the early part of his career, including 1980-81, then switches back and forth between SF and PF during the later part of his career. (Note that even though Hanzlik’s position in the header is listed as “Guard-Forward”, his primary position for each individual season of his career is shown as a forward of some sort.) Contrary to what b-r.com shows, I believe that Hanzlik’s primary position this year was at guard, not small forward.

FRED BROWN

History: 1st round pick of Sonics in 1971.

Games Played (Regular Season 78 G, 25.5 MPG): The four games in which Brown did not appear were four consecutive games from 1/7/81 through 1/11/81.

Games Started (Regular Season: 16): Taking into account the assumptions discussed earlier, the TSN box scores show Brown starting 16 games. These were 14 games in a 16-game stretch from 10/18/80 through 11/18/80 (the two games in that stretch he isn’t shown starting were on 10/25/80 and 11/12/80), and two consecutive games on 1/23/81 & 1/25/81.

When Brown initially entered the starting lineup on 10/18, he is shown displacing Vinnie Johnson from the slot opposite Paul Westphal. (This starting slot was likely originally intended to be filled by Gus Williams, but Williams became a Veteran Free Agent at the end of the 1979-80 season, couldn’t come to terms on a new contract, and sat out the entire 1980-81 season.) Later, after Westphal went out with an injury, the TSN box scores show Brown starting alongside Vinnie Johnson. For the two games during this stretch which Brown isn’t shown starting, the TSN box scores shown John Johnson switching from forward to guard to take his place. The first game on 10/25 was the last game before Westphal went out, while the second game on 11/12 fell during the period when Westphal was out. Brown was eventually displaced from the starting lineup by Bill Hanzlik.

The two games in January were in place of Westphal, who had since returned to the starting lineup. I assume that Brown’s starting role in those games was related to injury issues with Westphal, although Westphal played in both of these games.

b-r.com position info: Position in old b-r.com header is listed as Guard. Primary position is shown as SG for most seasons of career, including 1980-81, but is shown as PG for a few (1978-79 and 1982-83).

WALLY WALKER

History: 1st round pick of Blazers in 1976. Acquired in trade with Blazers, November 1977.

Games Played (Regular Season 82 G, 21.9 MPG): Walker appeared in every game the Sonics played.

Games Started (Regular Season: 4): Walker started four consecutive games from 1/11/81 through 1/18/81, in place of regular starter John Johnson. Johnson did not play in the first two games in this stretch, then came off the bench in the last two.

b-r.com position info: Position in old b-r.com header is listed as Forward. Primary position is shown as SF for all seasons of career.

ARMOND HILL

History: 1st round pick of Hawks in 1976. Acquired in trade with Hawks, December 1980.

Hill started the season with the Hawks, but was traded to the Sonics on 12/2/80 for two 2nd round picks and cash. The Sonics had an open roster spot due to the voiding of the trade for John Shumate the previous day.

Games Played (Regular Season 51 G, 21.8 MPG): At the time Hill was acquired, the Sonics had 57 games remaining in the season. Hill appeared in 51. The six games Hill did not play in were two consecutive games on 12/3/80 & 12/6/80 (the first two games after the trade), and four games in a six-game stretch immediately following the All-Star break (2/4/81; 2/7/81; two consecutive games on 2/10/81 & 2/12/81). Hill had played in 24 games for the Hawks prior to the trade, giving him a total of 75 games played for the year.

Games Started (Regular Season: 20): The 20 games the TSN box scores show Hill starting were a single game on 12/14/80; 11 games in a 12-game stretch from 12/26/80 through 1/18/81 (the one game in this stretch Hill is not shown starting was on 1/16/81); five consecutive games from 2/22/81 through 3/1/81; and three games in a four-game stretch from 3/17/81 through 3/24/81 (the one game in this stretch that Hill is not shown starting was on 3/22/81).

Hill is first shown starting on 12/14 in place of Bill Hanzlik, who was in turn filling in for the injured Paul Westphal; it’s not readily apparent why, as Hanzlik did play in that game. When Westphal was ready to return to starting, on 12/26, the the TSN box scores show the Sonics changing out both starting backcourt slots, starting Hill alongside Westphal, in what had been Vinnie Johnson’s starting slot. Just as Hill is shown starting in place of Hanzlik on 12/14, Hanzlik is shown starting in place of Hill on 1/16, even though Hill played in that game. On 1/20, Hill went back to the bench, displaced from the starting five by Johnson, who would continue in that role for the rest of the year. Westphal made his last start of the season on 2/6, however, opening up opportunities for others to start in the opposite guard slot. Of the 28 games remaining in the season at that point, the lion’s share (20) were started by Hanzlik, but Hill also made 8 starts.

b-r.com position info: Position in old b-r.com header is listed as Guard. Primary position is shown as PG for all seasons of career.

JAMES DONALDSON

History: 4th round pick of Sonics in 1979. (Note: Donaldson did not play in the NBA during the 1979-80 season, so even though he had come out of college a year earlier, he had no regular-season NBA experience prior to this season. He spent the 1979-80 season playing in Europe, and did not sign a contract with the Sonics until the 1980 offseason.)

Games Played (Regular Season 68 G, 14.4 MPG): Donaldson is credited with appearing in 68 regular season games, but I only noted him in 67 TSN box scores. b-r.com’s game log feature also shows Donaldson in only 67 box scores. It is possible that Donaldson was omitted from one box score in which he did not compile any stats that would have been shown in the box score.

The 15 TSN box scores from which Donaldson is missing are two consecutive games on 10/20/80 & 10/22/80; 11/1/80; 12/3/80; four consecutive games from 12/12/80 through 12/19/80; 1/16/81; five consecutive games from 1/20/81 through 1/28/81 (last five games before the All-Star break); and 2/17/81.

Donaldson was on the injured list from 1/19/80 to 2/3/80, so he couldn’t have played in any of the five games during that stretch. When Donaldson went on the IL, the Sonics signed Jacky Dorsey to a 10-day contract. When Donaldson was activated, Dorsey was still with the team, but the Sonics made room by placing Dennis Awtrey on the injured list.

Games Started (Regular Season: 3): According to the TSN box scores, Donaldson started at center on 10/25/80, 3/24/81, and 3/27/81. The TSN box scores show regular starter Jack Sikma shifting over to start at power forward in those three games.

b-r.com position info: Position in old b-r.com header is listed as Center. Primary position is shown as C for all seasons of career.

DENNIS AWTREY

History: 3rd round pick of 76ers in 1970. Signed as Veteran Free Agent, August 1980 (compensation owed to Bulls).

Games Played (Regular Season 47 G, 12.9 MPG): I’m not going to list out exactly which games Awtrey appeared in and which he didn’t, but his appearances in the TSN box scores do add up to his official games played total. Some general observations:

--Awtrey played in 10 of the Sonics’ first 14 games, then was absent from the next six games.

--Awtrey then played in 29 of the Sonics’ next 31 games. This stretch lasted from 11/21/80 to 1/25/81 (the second-to-last game before the All-Star break). The two games in this stretch in which Awtrey did not play were on 11/23/80 and 12/30/80.

--Awtrey was then absent from the Sonics’ next 14 games. He was placed on the injured list on 2/3/80, coming out of the All-Star break. Rookie center James Donaldson had spent the previous five games on IL, while the Sonics signed Jacky Dorsey to a 10-day contract. When Donaldson was ready to return, the Sonics made room by putting Awtrey on IL.

--Awtrey returned to action on 2/24/81, with 18 games remaining in the season. He played in 8 of those games. Awtrey obviously must have been activated from the IL at some point on or before 2/24, but I have no documentation of this. The Sonics appear to have placed Paul Westphal on IL to make room for Awtrey on the active roster.

Games Started (Regular Season: 0): The TSN box scores do not show Awtrey starting any games.

b-r.com position info: Position in old b-r.com header is listed as Center. Primary position is shown as C for all seasons of career.

JACKY DORSEY

History: 2nd round pick of Jazz in 1976. Signed to a 10-day contract, January 1981.

Dorsey did not start the season with the Sonics. He was signed to a 10-day contract on 1/19/81, filling the roster spot vacated when James Donaldson was placed on the injured list on the same day (a second slot on the IL was occupied at the time by Lonnie Shelton, who did not appear in any games after November). Dorsey apparently later signed a second 10-day contract, followed by a regular free agent contract on 2/9/81. Donaldson returned to action after missing just the minimum five games, but the Sonics kept room for Dorsey by moving another player onto the injured list. For the rest of the season, the Sonics would always carry two players on IL.

Games Played (Regular Season 29 G, 8.7 MPG): When the Sonics initially signed Dorsey, they had 35 games remaining in the season. Dorsey appeared in 29 of them. The six games Dorsey did not play in were on 1/20/81 (Dorsey’s first game on the roster), 2/12/81, 2/18/81, 2/27/81, 3/4/81 and 3/25/81.

Games Started (Regular Season: 0): The TSN box scores do not show Dorsey starting any games.

b-r.com position info: Position in old b-r.com header is listed as Forward. Primary position is shown as SF for all seasons of career.

INJURED LIST:

PAUL WESTPHAL

History: 1st round pick of Celtics in 1972. Acquired in trade with Suns, June 1980.

Games Played (Regular Season 36 G, 29.9 MPG): Westphal struggled with injuries, appearing in fewer than half of the season’s games. He played in the first nine games of the season (through 10/25), was absent from the next 25 games, then returned to play in 27 consecutive games from 12/22/80 through 2/17/81. Westphal made no further appearances after 2/17, missing the last 21 games of the season.

As discussed earlier, while I have no documentation of this, I believe that Westphal was placed on the injured list when the Sonics acquired Rudy White on 11/3/80. Westphal was activated on 12/18/80. (The Sonics had waived White on 12/16 to make room for the newly acquired Greg Kelser, but the trade in which the Sonics acquired Kelser was voided the next day, leaving an open spot available to activate Westphal.) While I again have no documentation of this, I believe that Westphal was placed on the injured list sometime between 2/17 and 2/24 so that Dennis Awtrey could be activated, this time remaining on IL for the rest of the season.

Games Started (Regular Season: 26): The 26 games the TSN box scores show Westphal starting were the first nine games of the season (through 10/25/80), and 17 games in a 19-game stretch from 12/26/80 through 2/6/81 (the two games in this stretch Westphal is not shown starting were two consecutive games on 1/23/81 & 1/25/81).

The ten games in which Westphal is shown coming off the bench were 12/22/80 (his first game back after he returned from his initial injury; he is shown returning to the starting lineup for the next game), the two games on 1/23/81 & 1/25/81, and his final seven appearances of the season (2/7/81 through 2/17/81).

b-r.com position info: Position in old b-r.com header is listed as Guard. Primary position is shown as SG for most seasons of career, including 1980-81, but is shown as PG for a few (1975-76 and 1976-77).

LONNIE SHELTON

History: 2nd round pick of Knicks in 1976. Acquired from Knicks in free agent compensation transaction, September 1978.

Games Played (Regular Season 14 G, 31.4 MPG): Shelton played in 14 of the first 17 games of the season (through 11/12/80; the three games he didn’t play in were on 10/22/80, and two consecutive games on 11/3/80 & 11/5/80). Shelton did not make any further appearances after 11/12. As discussed earlier, while I have no documentation of this, I believe that Shelton was placed on the injured list when the Sonics acquired John Shumate on 11/24/80, and remained on IL for the rest of the season.

Games Started (Regular Season: 13): The TSN box scores show Shelton starting 13 of the 14 games he played in. The exception was 10/24/80, which was the game immediately following the one he didn’t play in on 10/22.

b-r.com position info: Position in old b-r.com header is listed as Forward-Center. Primary position is shown as PF for all seasons of career.

NO LONGER WITH TEAM:

RUDY WHITE

History: 3rd round pick of Rockets in 1975. Acquired in trade with Warriors, November 1980.

White started the season with the Warriors, but was traded to the Sonics for future considerations on 11/3/80, with the Sonics apparently opening up a roster spot by placing Paul Westphal on the injured list. White was waived on 12/16/80 to make room for the newly acquired Greg Kelser. The trade in which the Sonics acquired Kelser was voided the next day, but the Sonics subsequently filled the roster spot by re-activating Westphal.

Games Played (Regular Season 12 G, 13.8 MPG): White appeared in twelve consecutive games from 11/3/80 through 11/30/80. White was on the Sonics’ roster for seven more games after 11/30, but did not play in any of them. White had played in 4 games for the Warriors prior to being traded to the Sonics, giving him a total of 16 games played for the year.

Games Started (Regular Season: 0): The TSN box scores do not show White starting any games.

b-r.com position info: Position in old b-r.com header is listed as Guard. Primary position is shown as SG for all seasons of career.

JOHN SHUMATE

History: 1st round pick of Suns in 1974. Acquired in trade with Spurs, November 1980.

Shumate started the season with the Spurs. He was traded to the Sonics on 11/24/80 for a 3rd round pick and cash. As discussed earlier, the trade was voided on 12/1/80 (by which time Shumate had appeared in two games for the Sonics) due to an issue with Shumate’s physical condition. The Spurs waived Shumate the following day.

Games Played (Regular Season 2 G, 4.0 MPG): The two games in which Shumate appeared for the Sonics were on 11/26/80 and 11/30/80. Shumate had played in 24 games for the Spurs prior to the trade, giving him a total of 26 games played for the year (he did not appear in any further games for the Spurs after he was returned).

Games Started (Regular Season: 0): The TSN box scores do not show Shumate starting any games.

b-r.com position info: Position in old b-r.com header is listed as Forward-Center. Primary position is shown as PF for all seasons of career.

NOTABLE UNSIGNED VETERAN FREE AGENT:

GUS WILLIAMS

History: 2nd round pick of Warriors in 1975. Signed as Veteran Free Agent, October 1977 (compensation owed to Sonics).

Williams played for the Sonics in 1979-80, but became a Veteran Free Agent at the end of the season. He could not come to terms with the Sonics on a new contract, and sat out the entire 1980-81 season.

b-r.com position info: Position in old b-r.com header is listed as Guard. Primary position is shown as PG for all seasons of career, including 1980-81, except for one (1986-87, his final season in the NBA, which is shown as SG).
MCT
 
Posts: 891
Joined: Fri May 11, 2007 5:41 pm

Re: 1980-81 Seattle Supersonics Games Played/Started & Trnsc

Postby MCT » Fri Jul 01, 2016 7:51 pm

SEATTLE SUPERSONICS – PART III

PLAYERS BY POSITION

STARTERS

Understanding how the Sonics’ starting lineup evolved during the 1980-81 season begins with the knowledge that the players who ended up starting for the bulk of the season weren’t necessarily who the Sonics had originally envisioned as the starters. Two players who were likely penciled in as starters ended up missing much of the season due to injury, while a third player became a free agent at the end of the 1979-80 season, could not come to terms with the Sonics on a new contract, and ended up sitting out the entire 1980-81 season. Let’s look at things position by position:

At center, the intended starter was likely Jack Sikma, and he ended up filling that role. The TSN box scores show Sikma starting 79 games at center.

At forward, the intended starters were likely Lonnie Shelton and John Johnson. Johnson filled the role that was envisioned for him (the TSN box scores show him starting 75 games at forward), but Shelton missed most of the season due to injury, only playing in 14 games. After Shelton got hurt, James Bailey stepped into the starting role; the TSN box scores show Bailey starting 69 games. For both the season as a whole, and for our snapshot period, Bailey and Johnson were the clear starters. b-r.com has Shelton and Bailey as PFs, and Johnson as an SF, which I agree with.

At guard, things were a lot more complicated. The intended starters were likely Gus Williams and Paul Westphal. Williams, who became a Veteran Free Agent at the end of the 1979-80 season, could not come to terms with the Sonics on a new contract, and ultimately sat out the entire 1980-81 season. Westphal, meanwhile, was limited to just 36 games (including just 26 starts, based on the TSN box scores) due to injury. The end result was a revolving door for the starting backcourt slots. Based on the TSN box scores:

--For the first four games of the season, the Sonics used a starting backcourt tandem of Paul Westphal and Vinnie Johnson. That was followed for four games with Westphal and Fred Brown, then one game with Westphal and John Johnson.

--At that point, Westphal went out with an injury. For 10 out of the next 11 games, the starters were Vinnie Johnson and Fred Brown. (The remaining game featured John Johnson in place of Brown.)

--For 14 of the next 15 games, Bill Hanzlik started alongside Vinnie Johnson. (The remaining game featured the recently acquired Armond Hill in place of Hanzlik.)

--By this time, Westphal was ready to return to the starting lineup, so the Sonics went to a starting tandem of Westphal and Hill. That pair started 11 of the next 12 games. (The remaining game featured Bill Hanzlik in place of Hill.)

--At that point, Vinnie Johnson returned to the starting lineup, displacing Hill. For the next seven games, Johnson typically started alongside Westphal, although there were a few games in this stretch that Brown started in place of Westphal.

--Westphal then dropped out of the starting lineup again, this time for good. Bill Hanzlik replaced him, and started the vast majority of the games for the remainder of the season, but there were some short periods where Armond Hill started instead (of the 28 games after Westphal dropped out of the starting lineup, Hanzlik started 20, Hill 8). Johnson meanwhile continued to start in the other slot.

What a mess. Who are the regular starters here? The TSN box scores show Vinnie Johnson starting 65 games, including every game from late January on, so he’s a clear choice for one slot. Who should we put in the other slot? There are several candidates, none of whom is really the clear-cut choice (all games started figures based on the TSN box scores):

--Westphal was clearly the intended starter, but he only played in 36 games, and only started 26. Westphal made no appearances after 2/17, and no starts after 2/6.

--Hanzlik started more games at guard than any player other than Vinnie Johnson (35), but averaged only 17.0 minutes and 5.4 points per game.

--Hill started a fair number of games and played a fair number of minutes. But his games started total is lower than either Hanzlik or Westphal (20). And his minutes per game average, while higher than Hanzlik’s, still isn’t especially high (20.8 mpg). Note that Hill was acquired from the Hawks in a trade in early December. For the season as a whole, including his time with the Hawks, the TSN box scores show him making 38 starts.

--Brown averaged more minutes per game than anyone on this list other than Westphal (25.5), but also started fewer games than anyone else (16).

For my snapshot, I chose to use Hanzlik as the starter, because he’s the player who was actually starting during the period I typically use for snapshots, and he started more games for the Sonics than any other player on the above list. If you were looking at the season as a whole, it might make more sense to use Westphal, or even Hill, if you want to give some weight to the number of starts Hill accumulated during his time with the Hawks. I think Brown is best thought of as a sixth man.

The next question is, which of these guys were the PGs and which were the SGs? Coming up with an answer is made difficult by the fact that some of these guys appear to have been combo guards, who could play either position. b-r.com shows Westphal, Johnson and Brown with a primary position of SG for most seasons of their career, but all have a season or two shown as PG. Hill, on the other hand, is shown exclusively as a PG. b-r.com’s position info suggests that Hanzlik was primarily a forward; I’m not sure which guard position he played when he swung to the backcourt, although I’d think SG would be more likely. When Hill was starting, we can probably assume he was the PG and the player starting opposite him was the SG. But what about when Westphal was starting alongside Johnson or Brown? How about Johnson and Hanzlik?

For this season, b-r.com’s answer is as follows: they show Johnson and Hill as PGs (the only season in Johnson’s career that his primary position is shown as PG), and Westphal and Brown as SGs. That take on the situation is as good as any; I can’t say it’s wrong.

Sikma and Bailey were the only two players on the team to average more than 30 mpg. Westphal was at 29.9 (but again with only 36 games played), John Johnson 29.1, and Vinnie Johnson 28.1.

RESERVES

Of the players classified as reserves in our snapshot lineup, the one who played the most minutes per game, by a sizable margin, was Fred Brown (25.5 mpg). Brown was often thought of as the Sonics’ sixth man, and he could probably be fairly labeled as such this season, though the TSN boxes show him making a number of starts. As discussed earlier, Brown was primarily an SG, but appears to have been capable of playing PG as well.

Next in the rotation come SF Wally Walker (21.9 mpg), and PG Armond Hill (20.8 mpg).

Further down the depth chart come backup centers James Donaldson (14.4 mpg) and Dennis Awtrey (12.9 mpg). The presence of two centers can be explained by the following: 1) Awtrey played in only 47 games, including some time missed due to injury, so for stretches of the season Donaldson was really the only backup center; 2) neither played especially heavy minutes; and 3) once James Bailey was promoted into the starting lineup, the Sonics don’t seem to have had a real backup PF in the rotation. I suspect that starting center Jack Sikma was swinging to PF to cover some minutes there (see the next section), opening up more minutes at backup center.

In our snapshot lineup, the last player on the bench was Jacky Dorsey (8.7 mpg), who originally joined the team on a 10-day contract. b-r.com has him as an SF.

This obviously reflects things as they stood after Dorsey was signed, and after Westphal dropped out of the lineup. Before those things happened, Bill Hanzlik (17.0 mpg) was part of the reserve corps, while Dorsey wasn’t on the roster at all.

POSITION NOTES

Center-Forwards

The Sonics had four players listed in their old b-r.com headers as playing both center and forward: Jack Sikma, James Bailey, Lonnie Shelton and John Shumate. Sikma is shown with a primary position of C for every season of his career, the others as PFs. James Donaldson and Dennis Awtrey are shown exclusively as centers.

The three players on the Sonics whose primary position is shown as center (Sikma, Donaldson and Awtrey) played 551 more minutes than were available at center. This suggests that at least one of these guys spent some time playing at PF. My guess is Sikma, as he is the only one of the three shown with a secondary position of forward. The TSN box scores also show Sikma starting three games at forward. 511 minutes works out to about 6.8 minutes per game. It’s possible that the Sonics didn’t originally intend to use Sikma that much at forward, but were forced to after Shelton’s injury left them thin at PF behind Bailey.

Going in the other direction, I don’t see why the Sonics would have had much need to use Bailey and Shelton at center, given the overage in minutes at center. It’s possible they were used somewhat interchangeably with Sikma, though; I don’t really know. I’d guess the same about Shumate, but as he only played two games for the Sonics (totaling eight minutes), he wouldn’t have much bearing on the equation.

At power forward, meanwhile, the minutes we’re assuming Sikma played aren’t enough to fill in all of the available time behind Bailey. There would still be several minutes a game left over. Adding to the intrigue, once Shelton got hurt and Bailey took on the starting role, no reserve is shown with a primary position of PF. Someone other than Sikma must have at least helped to fill the backup PF role after the point when Bailey became the starter. b-r.com lists Dorsey as an SF, but I notice that he has a very high rebounds-to-assist ratio, more typical of a PF (in 1980-81, he totaled 88 rebounds against just 9 assists). Was Dorsey really more of a PF than an SF? The Sonics signed him when they placed James Donaldson on the injured list. If the Sonics were looking to sign a player to compensate for Donaldson’s absence, it would have made more sense to sign a PF than an SF. Sikma could be used more heavily at C to cover for Donaldson, with the new signee covering some of the minutes Sikma had been playing at PF. Or if Dorsey really was an SF, were John Johnson or Wally Walker capable of playing PF for stretches? Even if they really weren’t, could the Sonics have used them there this year out of a lack of better options?

Where did Hanzlik play (more), forward or guard?

There are lots of mixed signals as to which position(s) Bill Hanzlik played. His old b-r.com header has him as a “Guard-Forward”, implying that while he saw significant time at both positions, over the course of his career, he played more at guard than at forward. But in its listing of Hanzlik’s primary position for each season, b-r.com has him as a forward of some sort for every season of his career. There isn’t a single season where his primary position is shown in the backcourt, which seems to contradict the old header’s claim that guard was the position he played the most over the course of his career. For 1980-81, b-r.com shows Hanzlik’s primary position as SF, but the TSN box scores suggest that Hanzlik started nearly half of the Sonics’ games (35) at guard, while showing no starts at forward.

Hanzlik played 1259 minutes this season. If you add up the minutes played by every other player on the Sonics whose primary position was in the frontcourt, and the minutes played by every other player on the Sonics whose primary position was in the backcourt, and compare them to the minutes available to the Sonics as a team, you should be left with a rough approximation of how many minutes were available for Hanzlik at each position. Doing that exercise yields an answer of 1258 minutes at guard versus 1 minute at forward. It’s possible that Hanzlik’s split between the two positions wasn’t quite that extreme. For example, the TSN box scores suggest that John Johnson started a couple of games at guard, which would free up at least a few minutes more at forward. But I don’t see any way the numbers work without Hanzlik playing far more heavily at guard than at forward. I’m not convinced that he actually played a significant number of minutes at forward this year at all, never mind playing it as a primary position.

Given the seeming imbalance in the available minutes, I am curious as to why b-r.com concluded that Hanzlik’s primary position was SF. John Johnson, Wally Walker and Jacky Dorsey are also shown with a primary position of SF, so there wouldn’t seem to be any need to slot in another player there. Was there some concrete reason for thinking Hanzlik played most heavily at SF?

As always, I would be interested in any information anyone has about how these players were used, this season or elsewhere in their careers.

TRIVIA

Oldest Player: John Johnson, born 10/18/47 (turned 33 about a week into the season).

Played in ABA: none. The Sonics are only the third team we’ve encountered who had absolutely no ABA vets on their roster during the season. The first two were the Pistons and the Warriors.

Longest continuous service with team: Fred Brown, with the team since the 1971-72 season.

Highest original draft position*: #4 overall – John Shumate. The highest aside from Shumate, who was with the Sonics only briefly, was Wally Walker (#5 overall). The Sonics had nine players this year who were drafted in the Top 10 (including as many as eight on the active roster at the same time), but none higher than #4.

Lowest original draft position*: 4th round, #73 overall – James Donaldson.

Youngest Player: Bill Hanzlik, born 12/6/57 (age 22 at start of season, turned 23 in December). James Donaldson and James Bailey were also born in 1957, but earlier in the year.

*Which player was chosen with the highest/lowest selection, by round and/or overall pick, with no regard to whether any players may have been drafted under circumstances not reflecting their “true” value (e.g., player was a junior eligible who had not committed to turn pro right away, player was already under contract to ABA).
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Re: 1980-81 Seattle Supersonics Games Played/Started & Trnsc

Postby MCT » Thu Sep 14, 2017 8:40 pm

A while back, Mike G. posted some material in the Spurs thread, with position information for 1980-81 sourced from Neft & Cohen’s NBA Encyclopedia. I recently posted about this in the introductory thread to this series, noting that I planned to post and comment on this data on a team-by-team basis. See the eighth post in the introductory thread for more information.

Here’s what Neft & Cohen have for the Sonics:

Mike Goodman wrote:
Code: Select all
tm     player         pos   Min     
Sea   Jack Sikma      Cf   2920         
Sea   James Bailey     F   2539         
Sea   John Johnson     F   2324         
Sea   Vinnie Johnson   G   2311         
Sea   Fred Brown       g   1986         
Sea   Wally Walker     f   1796         
Sea   Bill Hanzlik     g   1259         
Sea   Armond Hill      g   1114         
Sea   Paul Westphal    G   1078         
Sea   James Donaldson  c    980         
Sea    Dennis Awtrey   c    607         
Sea   Lonnie Shelton   f    440         
Sea   Jackie Dorsey    f    253         
Sea   Rudy White       g    165       


MCT wrote:The Sonics had four players listed in their old b-r.com headers as playing both center and forward: Jack Sikma, James Bailey, Lonnie Shelton and John Shumate. Sikma is shown with a primary position of C for every season of his career, the others as PFs. James Donaldson and Dennis Awtrey are shown exclusively as centers.

The three players on the Sonics whose primary position is shown as center (Sikma, Donaldson and Awtrey) played 551 more minutes than were available at center. This suggests that at least one of these guys spent some time playing at PF. My guess is Sikma, as he is the only one of the three shown with a secondary position of forward. The TSN box scores also show Sikma starting three games at forward. 511 minutes works out to about 6.8 minutes per game. It’s possible that the Sonics didn’t originally intend to use Sikma that much at forward, but were forced to after Shelton’s injury left them thin at PF behind Bailey.

Neft & Cohen seem to agree with my take. They have Sikma as “Cf”, but Donaldson and Awtrey as exclusively centers.

MCT wrote:Going in the other direction, I don’t see why the Sonics would have had much need to use Bailey and Shelton at center, given the overage in minutes at center. It’s possible they were used somewhat interchangeably with Sikma, though; I don’t really know.

Neft & Cohen have Bailey and Shelton as exclusively forwards.

MCT wrote: There are lots of mixed signals as to which position(s) Bill Hanzlik played. His old b-r.com header has him as a “Guard-Forward”, implying that while he saw significant time at both positions, over the course of his career, he played more at guard than at forward. But in its listing of Hanzlik’s primary position for each season, b-r.com has him as a forward of some sort for every season of his career. There isn’t a single season where his primary position is shown in the backcourt, which seems to contradict the old header’s claim that guard was the position he played the most over the course of his career. For 1980-81, b-r.com shows Hanzlik’s primary position as SF, but the TSN box scores suggest that Hanzlik started nearly half of the Sonics’ games (35) at guard, while showing no starts at forward.

Hanzlik played 1259 minutes this season. If you add up the minutes played by every other player on the Sonics whose primary position was in the frontcourt, and the minutes played by every other player on the Sonics whose primary position was in the backcourt, and compare them to the minutes available to the Sonics as a team, you should be left with a rough approximation of how many minutes were available for Hanzlik at each position. Doing that exercise yields an answer of 1258 minutes at guard versus 1 minute at forward. It’s possible that Hanzlik’s split between the two positions wasn’t quite that extreme. For example, the TSN box scores suggest that John Johnson started a couple of games at guard, which would free up at least a few minutes more at forward. But I don’t see any way the numbers work without Hanzlik playing far more heavily at guard than at forward. I’m not convinced that he actually played a significant number of minutes at forward this year at all, never mind playing it as a primary position.

Given the seeming imbalance in the available minutes, I am curious as to why b-r.com concluded that Hanzlik’s primary position was SF. John Johnson, Wally Walker and Jacky Dorsey are also shown with a primary position of SF, so there wouldn’t seem to be any need to slot in another player there. Was there some concrete reason for thinking Hanzlik played most heavily at SF?

Neft & Cohen seem to agree with my take. They have Hanzlik as exclusively a guard. Note that this contradicts b-r.com’s identification of Hanzlik’s primary position as SF (which I had disputed in my previous analysis).
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