NBA Playoff Teams with Local Connections

With the NBA playoffs underway, here’s a look at the NBA players with local connections playing on teams that made it to the postseason. Without an NBA team in Seattle, we tend to cheer on local players or players with connections to the state of Washington. It should also be pointed out that the team from Oklahoma missed the playoffs (insert synonym for the word “happy” here).

Eastern Conference

Atlanta Hawks: Austin Daye

Austin Daye isn’t from Washington, but spent his college years at Gonzaga where he was a prolific shot blocker and led the Zags to NCAA tournament berths in each of his seasons in Spokane. Daye was the 15th overall pick in the 2009 NBA draft by the Detroit Pistons and now suits up for the Atlanta Hawks. He’s also played for the Memphis Grizzlies, Toronto Raptors and San Antonio Spurs. He won a ring with the Spurs in 2014.

Cleveland Cavaliers: Joe Harris

Joe Harris was born in Chelan, Washington and attended the University of Virginia where he played for four years under former Washington State head coach Tony Bennett. The former All-ACC performer has per-game averages of 2.7 points, .8 rebounds and .5 assists in his first season in Cleveland and in the league.

Chicago Bulls: Aaron Brooks

One of the NBA’s best “instant-offense” guards (which tends to be a common trend among Seattle-area guards), Brooks has had a fairly successful NBA career with the likes of the Houston Rockets, Denver Nuggets, Sacramento Kings, Chicago Bulls and Phoenix Suns. He currently plays for the Chicago Bulls where he has averaged 11.6 points a game off the bench this season in a similar role to the one fellow Washingtonian Nate Robinson played for the Bulls.

Toronto Raptors: Terrence Ross

Oregonian Terrence Ross played two years at the University of Washington before going pro and being selected with the eighth overall pick in the 2012 NBA draft. He’s started at least 61 games per season over the past two years for a successful Toronto club. He’s averaged 9.8 points and 2.8 rebounds a game this season and is a prolific dunker.

Washington Wizards: Martell Webster

After being drafted sixth overall by the Portland Trailblazers in the 2005 NBA draft, Webster has carved out a role as a bench scorer. After scoring 9.7 points a game for the Wizards last season, he’s down to 3.3 points a contest this year.

Boston Celtics: Isaiah Thomas, Avery Bradley and Kelly Olynyk

Starting with Tacoma natives Isaiah Thomas and Avery Bradley, Boston has some strong ties to the Pacific Northwest. Thomas has joined another Washingtonian, Jamal Crawford, among the best offensive options off the bench. At 26-years-old, he looks to be part of the Celtics core for the long haul and is already off to a promising start as his level of play propelled the Celtics from a lottery-bound team to the Eastern Conference’s seventh seed.

Joining him in the Boston backcourt is Bradley who is a lock-down defender and solid offensive threat. The former McDonald’s All American averaged 13.9 points a game to go along with 3.1 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 1.1 steals per contest.

Rounding out Boston’s group of players connected to the Pacific Northwest is Thomas’ partner in crime on Boston’s second unit, Kelly Olynyk. The former Gonzaga big man continues to improve in the NBA after averaging 8.7 points a game in his rookie season, he’s up to 10.3 points a contest this season. The center can step out to the three-point line and has a solid, low-post game.

Western Conference

(RELATED: Twitter’s Reaction to the team from Oklahoma missing the playoffs)

Golden State Warriors: Justin Holiday

The brother of Jrue Holiday, Justin played his collegiate ball at the University of Washington and has played for pro teams everywhere from Belgium to Hungary to Idaho. The wing has stuck on the Warriors’ roster where he’s scored 4.3 points a game and 1.2 rebounds per contest.

Houston Rockets: Jason Terry

The longtime Dallas Maverick is now suiting up for another Dallas team where he’s averaged 7.0 points a game to go along with 1.9 assists and 1.6 rebounds. The Jet has had a ridiculously productive NBA career with long stops in Atlanta and Dallas preceding shorter stars in Boston and Brooklyn. He won a ring with Dallas in 2010/2011.

Los Angeles Clippers: Jamal Crawford, Spencer Hawes, C.J. Wilcox

It’s probably fitting that the Steve Ballmer-owned Clippers have a large contingent of players with connections to the state of Washington.

Similar to Terry, Crawford has had a long and extremely productive career. He’s averaged 15.6 points a game throughout his career, which isn’t far from his 15.8 points a contest this season. He dropped 18.6 points a game last season and is widely regarded as one of, if not of if not the best sixth men in the league.

Another Seattle product, Spencer Hawes is a versatile big man who has found success as both a scorer and rebounder. He’s had a down season this year with a stat line that includes 5.8 points and 3.5 rebounds per game, but is still a productive and talented player. The former Husky has range on his jumper and is a solid source of offense from the center position.

Another former UW player suiting up for the Clippers is C.J. Wilcox, the developing wing player only got into 21 games on a stacked Clippers team, averaging 2.0 points a game.

Memphis Grizzlies: Jeff Green

One of the last former Sonics in the league, Jeff Green played his rookie season in Seattle, averaging 10.5 points and 4.7 rebounds per game.

San Antonio Spurs: Aron Baynes

Former Washington State Cougar Aron Baynes played in numerous countries before landing with the Spurs. He made stops in Lithuania, Germany, Greece and Slovenia before joining Gregg Popovich’s team. The center had his best season to date this year with 6.6 points and 4.5 rebounds per contest.

New Orleans Pelicans: Quincy Pondexter

Former Washington Husky Quincy Pondexter started his career with the New Orleans Hornets in 2010/2011 before spending four seasons in Memphis with the Grizzlies. He’s back in New Orleans with the Pelicans and averaged a career-high 7.2 points per game this season.

For more NBA pieces, click here. For pieces relating to Seattle and the NBA, click this here link.

All stats courtesy of http://www.basketball-reference.com/ unless otherwise noted.

 

#NBAPlayoffs Teams with Local Connections: Western Conference

After looking at players in the NBA playoffs with local connections from the Eastern Conference (which you can view here), it’s now time to check in on the Western Conference teams.

(RELATED: Twitter’s Reaction to the team from Oklahoma missing the playoffs)

Golden State Warriors: Justin Holiday

The brother of Jrue Holiday, Justin played his collegiate ball at the University of Washington and has played for pro teams everywhere from Belgium to Hungary to Idaho. The wing has stuck on the Warriors’ roster where he’s scored 4.3 points a game and 1.2 rebounds per contest.

Houston Rockets: Jason Terry

The longtime Dallas Maverick is now suiting up for another Dallas team where he’s averaged 7.0 points a game to go along with 1.9 assists and 1.6 rebounds. The Jet has had a ridiculously productive NBA career with long stops in Atlanta and Dallas preceding shorter stars in Boston and Brooklyn. He won a ring with Dallas in 2010/2011.

Los Angeles Clippers: Jamal Crawford, Spencer Hawes, C.J. Wilcox

It’s probably fitting that the Steve Ballmer-owned Clippers have a large contingent of players with connections to the state of Washington.

Similar to Terry, Crawford has had a long and extremely productive career. He’s averaged 15.6 points a game throughout his career, which isn’t far from his 15.8 points a contest this season. He dropped 18.6 points a game last season and is widely regarded as one of, if not of if not the best sixth men in the league.

Another Seattle product, Spencer Hawes is a versatile big man who has found success as both a scorer and rebounder. He’s had a down season this year with a stat line that includes 5.8 points and 3.5 rebounds per game, but is still a productive and talented player. The former Husky has range on his jumper and is a solid source of offense from the center position.

Another former UW player suiting up for the Clippers is C.J. Wilcox, the developing wing player only got into 21 games on a stacked Clippers team, averaging 2.0 points a game.

Memphis Grizzlies: Jeff Green

One of the last former Sonics in the league, Jeff Green played his rookie season in Seattle, averaging 10.5 points and 4.7 rebounds per game.

San Antonio Spurs: Aron Baynes

Former Washington State Cougar Aron Baynes played in numerous countries before landing with the Spurs. He made stops in Lithuania, Germany, Greece and Slovenia before joining Gregg Popovich’s team. The center had his best season to date this year with 6.6 points and 4.5 rebounds per contest.

New Orleans Pelicans: Quincy Pondexter

Former Washington Husky Quincy Pondexter started his career with the New Orleans Hornets in 2010/2011 before spending four seasons in Memphis with the Grizzlies. He’s back in New Orleans with the Pelicans and averaged a career-high 7.2 points per game this season.

For more NBA pieces, click here. For pieces relating to Seattle and the NBA, click this here link.

All stats courtesy of http://www.basketball-reference.com/ unless otherwise noted.

Vine Video of the Day: Pete Carroll Videobombs John Clayton on Live TV

Seattle Links: NBA, Michael Bennett, Seahawks, Mariners, Gonzaga

March Madness: Why You Should Trust Gonzaga in Your Bracket

There is a decent amount of skepticism surrounding Gonzaga going into the NCAA tournament. Even in the Zags’ home state of Washington there is skepticism. If you’re not a “Gonzaga hater” (which there are a lot of) you’ve heard the gauntlet of stories. There’s the upset losses to Nevada in 2004, the 2002 loss to Wyoming (yes, over a decade later and people are still giving the Zags flack). There’s also the loss to Wichita State as a #1 seed in 2013 as well as a lack of recent Sweet 16 appearances.

Firstly, those first two losses were 11 and 13 years ago. Gonzaga skeptics will also point to that Wichita State loss when GU was the number one team in the country. Wichita State would go on to make the Final Four that year, and they made a whopping 14 three-pointers. I don’t care what name is on the front of your jersey or what seed you have, when another team makes 14 threes, it’s going to be tough to beat them.

The most ridiculous thing about this Gonzaga criticism is that this is a different year with a completely different team. None of those previous teams featured All-American candidate Kyle Wiltjer or Byron Wesley or future lottery-pick Domantas Sabonis.

Gonzaga has been given the #2 seed in the South Region. Here’s why you should trust them to make a deep run in your bracket.

  • Close to Home

Gonzaga is playing across the state in Seattle, Washington for the first two rounds of the tourney (assuming they beat North Dakota State). Potential opponents in Seattle beyond NDSU include Davidson and Iowa, the winner of the game will likely take on the Bulldogs. Additionally, the Zags have a large fan base in Western Washington and play an annual game in Seattle every season as part of the non-conference schedule every year since 2003. Those games are played in Key Arena, the site of GU’s first two games of the tournament.

  • Familiarity

Of the other 16 teams in the South Region, GU has played and beaten three of them. The Zags shellacked #6 seed SMU 72-56 while they also earned wins over #8 seed Saint John’s and #11 seed UCLA. The Zags will certainly feel confident if they face any of those three in later rounds.

  • Balance

Gonzaga boasts the most efficient offense in the country. The team shoots an absurd 52.4% from the field. They rank sixth in assists per game. The Zags also are tenth in the country in points per game with an average of 79.1 points scored per contest—they hold opponents to 60.9 points per game.

  • Depth

The Bulldogs feature six players who average at least 8.2 points per contest. Kyle Wiltjer leads the team with 16.7 points per game and recently dropped 45 (yes, that’s right 45 against Pacific). Byron Wesley (10.8 points per game) and Gary Bell Jr. (8.2) are two the low-scoring starters, but each could easily average 15 points a contest on a team with less offensive firepower and weapons. Reserve guards Kyle Dranginis, Silas Melson and Eric McClellan are all capable of hitting double figures in a hurry.

  • Size

Gonzaga is one of the few teams that can legitimately challenge Kentucky. Not only can the Zags’ guards play with anyone, their size and skillset would cause Kentucky problems in a potential matchup. Sabonis and Wiltjer both stand at 6’10” while Przemek Karnowski is a massive human being at 7’1”.  All three offer varying skill sets that will cause any team fits.

NBA Talent Pool: Why The League Can Sustain Expansion

One of the big downsides to NBA expansion, according to some pundits and fan, is the lack of talent. The feeling is that the NBA can’t support another team(s) because of a lack of talent available. The “tanking” theory has only supported this theory.

However, it is possible for the NBA to support another team or teams to field a competitive roster. Recent signings around the league have only supported the theory that the NBA can field new teams from a talent level standpoint. These signings have quickly turned into major contributors, or have experience. There are also a number of quality free agents on the open market as well as a number of examples of players who went from sitting on the end of the bench to contributing in the NBA.

Here’s a look at some of those players:

Recent Signings From Out of Nowhere (Relatively Speaking)

Langston Galloway

  • The Saint Joseph’s product has been a positive for the Knicks with 10.8 points, 4.5 rebounds, 2.9 assists and one steal per game.

Hassan Whiteside

  • He’s been a little out of control with his cheap shot on Kelly Olynyk and his take down of Alex Len, but foolish decisions aside, Whiteside is a talented player who has shown he can be productive in the league. Averages 10.9 points and 9.8 rebounds per contest.

Tyler Johnson

  • Whiteside’s teammate in Miami, the guard averages 8 points a contest, he dropped 26 in a win over Phoenix.

Recent Signings with Experience

Nate Robinson

  • The 5’9” Robinson brings instant offense as at the point guard spot, averages 11.1 points per game in NBA career.

Michael Beasley

  • The former number two overall-pick may be more of a role player at this point in time, but he’s a pretty productive part-time player. Miami has gotten good value out of Beasley on a pair of ten-day contracts. The Kansas State standout has scored a respectable 11 points a game in 24.9 minutes per contest.

Bernard James

  • James has only ever played for the Mavericks in his NBA career. In Dallas he’s proved himself to be a quality back-up center.

Free Agents/ Available Players

Ray Allen

  • One of the best pure shooters of all time. Considered signing with a contender this season before choosing to sit the year out.

Back End of the Bench to Quality Contributor

Tony Wroten

  • The Seattle product went from averaging 2.6 points per game in Memphis a couple seasons ago to scoring 16.9 points a game this year with Philadelphia. Is Wroten going to score 17 points a night on every NBA team? Probably not, but his statistical output on a better team is likely to fall closer to his numbers in Philly than his showing in Memphis.

Miles Plumlee

  • Went from averaging less than a point per game with Indiana (0.9) to scoring 8.1 points and grabbing 7.8 rebounds a game in Phoenix his second year. Now with Milwaukee, he’s proven that at the very least, he’s a serviceable rotation big.

Robert Covington

  • Similar to Wroten and Plumlee, Covington was receiving little playing time with his first club (Houston). The wing player moved to Philadelphia where he has flourished, averaging 13 points a contest to go along with 4.7 rebounds a game and a 37.7 shooting percentage from three.

All of these players are either available or were available at a certain point in time.

An expansion team would also have the benefit of having two draft to supplement their roster. One of those picks would likely be in the high lottery. The other pick would likely be near the onset of the second round, providing additional value.

If the success stories of Galloway and Whiteside have taught us anything it’s that there is talent for the NBA to make use of when expansion comes. This isn’t even considering the concept of an expansion draft where the new team would get to pluck unprotected players from other teams’ rosters.

The expansion team would likely find themselves with a young building block to construct a team around al a Giannis Antetokounmpo, Andre Drummond or DeMarcus Cousins.

All stats courtesy of http://www.basketball-reference.com/ unless otherwise noted.

Seahawks Acquire Jimmy Graham

The latest per Jay Glazer of Fox Sports-

The Seahawks haven’t announced anything yet, but knowing how good Glazer is, you can probably expect something official soon.

I guess they didn’t want to waste time in finding Zach Miller’s replacement.

Graham lead the NFL in touchdown catches in 2013 with 16 and had 10 last season. Since 2011, he has 46 touchdown receptions and 4396 yards. His presence, along with Marshawn Lynch, will give the Seahawks two of the best red zone players in the league. Not to mention Russell Wilson, who isn’t too shabby of a player either.

All stats courtesy of http://www.pro-football-reference.com/ unless otherwise noted.

Kingdome Crossover: Players the Seattle Mariners Could Have Drafted Instead of Danny Hultzen

The Seattle Mariners have made their fair share of blunders over the years, namely letting numerous players leave for little-to-no return.

This long, illustrious list includes the likes of Carlos Guillen, Jason Varitek, Rafael Soriano, Alex Rodriguez—you get the point.

The M’s missed a big opportunity in the first round of the 2011 draft.

Danny Hultzen was drafted third overall by Seattle and immediately became part of the “Big Three” pitching prospects along with James Paxton and Taijuan Walker. Hultzen showed immense potential, but has seen his career derailed by injuries.

The former first-round pick could still achieve the success he was projected to reach, but it will take time.

Hindsight is obviously 20-20 (stop me if you’ve heard that before), but the 2011 draft produced numerous first-round gems that the Mariners could have taken. Here are some of those players in order of draft position.

Dylan Bundy, Starting Pitcher: Baltimore Orioles, 4th Overall Pick

Bundy, only 22, made his major league debut in 2012. He made two relief appearances for the O’s, totaling an inning and two thirds.

However, the former fourth-overall shows the potential to be a front-line pitcher, if not an ace in the major leagues.

If nothing else, Bundy’s name appearing in trade rumors should speak to his value. According to Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun, Los Angeles wanted Bundy in a trade for Matt Kemp while Roch Kubatko of MASN Sports reported in July that Boston was interested in Bundy in a potential Jon Lester trade.

Anthony Rendon, Third Baseman: Washington Nationals, 6th Overall Pick

In a draft class loaded with talented hitters, Rendon has shown the most polish early.

The third baseman, who has also experience at second base, hit .287 in 153 games. The infielder also scored a major-league high 111 runs. In addition, he swatted 23 home runs, drove in 83 runs and swiped 17 bases.

He would have trouble finding at-bats with Robinson Cano and Kyle Seager manning second and third, but teams can always use extra bats—especially quality ones like Rendon.

Archie Bradley, Starting Pitcher: Arizona Diamondbacks, 7th Overall Pick

Similar to Bundy, Bradley has future ace/front-line starter written all over him.

He’s been routinely ranked in the top ten prospects in the league and is probably on equal, and while his minor league numbers haven’t been overly impressive (4.45 ERA and a 1.506 WHIP in 18 minor league starts across three minor league levels) he still has a bright future.

Bradley is on similar or better footing than Taijuan Walker or James Paxton in terms of potential.

Francisco Lindor, Shortstop: Cleveland Indians, 8th Overall Pick

Lindor has skyrocketed through the minors and could be in Cleveland in the near future.

One of the top prospects in the game, Lindor is regarded as a top-notch defensive shortstop. He also managed a .273 batting average in 38 Triple-A, showing the potential to be more than simply a defensive wizard at the major league level.

His impending arrival also forced two-time All Star Asdrubal Cabrera out of Cleveland at the trade deadline. Incumbent shortstop Jose Ramirez could meet the same fate as Cabrera.

Javier Baez, Infielder: Chicago Cubs, 9th Overall Pick

Part of the Cubs’ first wave of impact prospects to make the majors, Baez shows tremendous upside. He has outstanding power and will drive in plenty of runs when he reaches his potential.

Baez can play either middle infield position and is part of a talented group of Cubs’ infielders that include Kris Bryant, Addison Russell, Starlin Castro and Anthony Rizzo among others.

The infielder wouldn’t unseat Robinson Cano at second (duh), but he’d provide an upgrade over Chris Taylor and Brad Miller at shortstop.

Baez mashed 37 homers and drove in 111 runs in across multiple levels in the minor leagues in 2013.

George Springer, Outfielder: Houston Astros, 11th Overall Pick

While Rendon would have been blocked at multiple positions by the Cano and Seager, George Springer wouldn’t have been blocked in the outfield.

Part of the Astros’ next great team, Springer is a slugger in every sense of the word.

The outfielder swatted 20 home runs in a mere 78 games. He only hit .231 and struck out 114 games, but his power is undeniable.

Springer has a .303 career batting average in the minor leagues—or, in other words, he won’t be a .231 hitter forever. He’ll improve.

But instead of hitting bombs in Safeco Field as a member of the M’s, Springer will be hitting for the division rival Astros.

Jose Fernandez, Starting Pitcher: Miami Marlins, 14th Overall Pick

Jose Fernandez is one of the best starting pitchers in all of baseball—a fantastic accomplishment considering he was only drafted in 2011.

The 22-year-old Cuban took home Rookie of the Year and All-Star honors in his first season in 2013. Only Clayton Kershaw and Adam Wainwright finished ahead of Fernandez in Cy Young voting that year.

The Marlins ace is one of the many exiting, young talents in Miami that have prompted the team to give Giancarlo Stanton a big contract and accelerate the rebuilding process so as to win as soon as possible.

Coming off of an injury shortened 2014, Fernandez will undoubtedly be Miami’s ace when he returns in 2015 and beyond.

Seattle is blessed in the pitching department with the likes of Felix Hernandez, Hisashi Iwakuma and Taijuan Walker, but adding Fernandez certainly wouldn’t have hurt.

C.J. Cron, First Baseman: Los Angeles Angels Anaheim, 17th Overall Pick

Cron can flat out hit. He may not be as dynamic as teammate Mike Trout, but he provides the Angels with another young player to build around.

The first baseman owns a .290 career minor-league batting average and can drive the ball out of the park. He slugged 11 bombs in only 79 games in 2014 and has the potential to do much more.

With Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton in decline, Cron will be counted on to help carry the Angels into the future. Don’t be surprised if Cron gets close to 40 home runs in a season at some point.

He would have been a nice fit at first base for the M’s.

Sonny Gray, Starting Pitcher: Oakland Athletics, 18th Overall Pick

While Bundy and Bradley are future aces, Gray (like Fernandez) is already there.

Gray has a 2.99 ERA in 283 innings pitched and posted a 3.2 WAR in 2014. That 3.2 WAR was higher than the likes of Yu Darvish, Hisashi Iwakuma and Anibal Sanchez.

Gray stepped in during his rookie season and started two playoff games for the A’s. Both times he went toe-to-toe with vintage Justin Verlander and didn’t blink, arguably pitching as well as the former Cy Young MVP.

Also like Fernandez, Gray would have been a nice addition to the M’s, but Seattle will have to settle for seeing him pitch against them a few times a year with Oakland.

Other Notable Names

In addition to the big names like Fernandez, Springer and Rendon, there were a plethora of players available later in the first round of the draft.

The Cardinals and Giants respective second baseman (Kolten Wong and Joe Panik) were taken 22nd and 29th overall. Jackie Bradley Jr. was taken with the 40th pick while fellow Red Sox youngsters, and current farmhands, Matt Barnes (19th), Henry Owens (36th) and Blake Swihart (26th) were also first-round picks.

While Danny Hultzen hasn’t reached the big leagues yet, the M’s clearly could have received more value out of all these players.

All stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference.comunless otherwise noted.

You can view the piece over at Kingdome here. For everything else Kingdome of Seattle Sports has to offer, click here. You can follow Kingdome on Twitter here and subscribe on YouTube here.

Seattle NBA and NHL: Latest Updates

Here’s the latest on the NBA and NHL fronts in Seattle.

The Seattle Times looks at the arena focus shifting from the NBA to the NHL.

Per Chris Daniels of King 5, Seattle Mayor Ed Murray has said that the Arena environmental review is expected to be finished by May 7th.

Richard Sherman wants the NBA to bring back the Sonics.

Finally, RealGM looks at what Seattle must do next in pursuit of an NBA team.

Seattle Seahawks: Why They’re Poised to Get Back to the Super Bowl

Gut-wrenching, heartbreaking, whatever you want to call it… that one was tough. To come so close to repeating and get that close to scoring. This one will stay with Seattle, team and fans alike, for a long time.

Still, the Seahawks will be back strong for next season, and you can bet that coaches and players alike will be looking to make up for the Super Bowl loss with a ring next year. Here’s why they’re poised to get back to the Super Bowl-

1. Returning Talent

For the most part, the band will be back together next season. The Seahawks will see a small number of their core hit free agency, most notably Byron Maxwell and Jermaine Kearse (more on that later). Russell Wilson and Marshawn Lynch, should he return, will be rejoined on offense by promising receiver Paul Richardson (once he returns from injury), the emerging Riccardo Lockette, Super Bowl breakout Chris Matthews and the vastly underrated Doug Baldwin. Kearse could return, while Luke Willson and Tony Moeaki provide a solid outlet for passes at the tight end position. Like Richardson, Zach Miller will also be coming back from injury.

Defensively, Seattle will welcome back a host of players from injured reserve. Brandon Mebane, one of the game’s best defensive tackles, will be healthy. Promising youngsters Jordan Hill, Jesse Williams, Cassius Marsh and Kevin Pierre-Louis will return as well.

Other than the returning injured players, the majority of the starting defense is under contract with Maxwell, Malcolm Smith and Kevin Williams the only prominent free agents.

2. Few Free Agent Priorities

One of the main reasons the Hawks won their first Super Bowl was due to the additions of Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril, players they were able to poach from other teams in free agency. Last offseason, the team was limited in free agency and had to spend most of their offseason cash on retaining the likes of Bennett and Avril.

While Seattle will spend this offseason thanks to potential extensions for Russell Wilson, Marshawn Lynch and Bobby Wagner, the team won’t have as many key players hit free agency as last season when the team lost Golden Tate, Breno Giacomini, Paul McQuistan, Brandon Browner, Clinton McDonald and Walter Thurmond. The team also had to cut defensive lineman Red Bryant and Chris Clemons.

Things will be much different this time around. Notable Seahawks hitting free agency include Byron Maxwell, Jermaine Kearse, James Carpenter, Malcolm Smith and Kevin Williams.

Besides handing out potential extensions, the ‘Hawks should focus on bringing back Maxwell. Since last season he’s seamlessly stepped in the Legion of Boom’s starting contingent. The cornerback will be one of the most sought-after free agents should he hit the open market. The question becomes whether the Seahawks brass trusts Tharold Simon to take over for Maxwell, similar to the recent transition of Maxwell for Browner.

While Carpenter may be brought back, the team can withstand the potential losses of Smith and Williams. The respective emergences of Kevin Pierre-Louis as well as Jordan Hill (5.5 sacks in the last six regular season game) should more than make up for the respective Super Bowl MVP and former Viking if Smith and Williams aren’t retained.

3. Continued Youth Development

Seattle can afford to let Smith and Williams go thanks to the development and potential of the aforementioned duo of Pierre-Louis and Hill. These two are just two of the latest players undervalued in the draft that Seattle has developed into quality contributors or starters, joining the likes of Richard Sherman, Kam Chancellor, Wilson, Wagner, J.R. Sweezy, Kearse, Baldwin, Willson, K.J. Wright, Smith, Lockette, Jeremy Lane, Simon and Robert Turbin among others.

Quite frankly, Seattle is the best at finding and developing talent—few NFL teams come close.

The continued development of players like Chris Matthews, Sweezy, Simon, Hill, Pierre-Louis and Cassius Marsh will only improve the Seahawks’ depth and quality heading into next season.

In Conclusion

The Seahawks loss in the Super Bowl was incredibly tough, it may go down as one of the most gut-wrenching and painful losses in the history of the NFL, let alone American sports. Still, if there was ever a group to rebound from it, come back strong and make good, it would be the current group of Seahawks.

Remember, the last time Seattle was dealt a heartbreaking (albeit less painful) playoff loss it was Atlanta a few years ago. The Hawks responded with a ring the next year.

They’ll be back.

All stats courtesy of http://www.pro-football-reference.com/ unless otherwise noted.