Friday, March 17

Watson and Ridnour

Earl Watson and Luke Ridnour of the Seattle SupersonicsThere was a lot of talk when the Sonics acquired Earl Watson as to how his arrival would impact Luke Ridnour. Frodo’s had the best year of his career this season, but there was a concern among many that he was playing too many minutes (of course, according to some people who read this site, two minutes is too many minutes for Luke, but I digress).

I thought I would take a look at the brief run of Watson-Ridnour to see how it has affected Ridnour’s game. Is he playing better? Making more turnovers, or less? Shooting more conscientiously? How many hypothetical questions can I ask before you become annoyed and start reading

The one area of Ridnour’s game which has changed the most since Watson’s acquisition is 3-point shooting. Prior to this season, Ridnour was an acceptable option from long-range, but this year he was off, never rising to more than 33% in any month and bottoming out at a Lloyd Daniels-like 15% in February.

Enter Earl Watson. This month, Frodo has been draining long-range jumpers to the tune of 43%, a remarkable number. That ties in with fewer minutes and fewer attempts, which leads one to believe that Ridnour is being more selective in his shot attempts, and therefore more successful.

Another area of improvement is turnovers. After turning the ball over once every 17 minutes for most of the season, that figure has shrunk to one turnover every 22 minutes, a 30% improvement. Again, I think this can be attributed to fewer minutes and a reduction in fatigue. Concurrently, his assist figures are up slightly on a per-minute basis, to the point that this month he posted the best per-minute assist numbers of his career.

As for defense, it’s hard to tell. 82games doesn’t break down +/- figures on a daily or monthly basis (geez, guys, how hard could it be, there’s only 300-odd players to crunch numbers for), but it’s worth noting that Frodo’s +/- has been mostly minus lately, despite the Sonics recent spate of wins. Obviously, Earl Watson can do many things, but improve Frodo’s defense is not one of them.

On the whole, I’d say it’s pretty obvious that the Watson trade has improved Ridnour’s game. Has he improved enough that he merits starting for the near future? As an Oregon grad, a proud Duck fan, and a UCLA hater, it pains me to say no. Watson is clearly outplaying Ridnour right now, and it seems obvious to me that the Sonics play better with Earl than Luke running the show. If Frodo is willing to come off the bench for 20-some minutes a night, I think he’d be a great fit. But as a long-term starter for this team, the Sonics seem to be better off with Watson.


Anonymous said...

I like Luke, like Watson more. Hated it when he left the first time around, hope we keep him around. Whoever starts, I think Hill has the sense to insert the right guy at the right time. Since Watson seems to care more about playing than starting, I have no problem starting Luke then pulling him when needed (like last night - Watson played 11 minutes more than Luke) - I think that might be better on Luke's ego than making him come off the bench, which may result in a slump, unhappiness and a dsire to be traded. Which would leave us looking for a back-up PG again.

Anonymous said...

Obviously, Earl Watson can do many things, but improve Frodo’s defense is not one of them.

I don't think your conclusion is necessarily sound. In fact, I think that Luke is bound to improve defensively from practicing against Earl day in and day out and observing what makes him such a successful defender. It is impossible to say how improved he will be, but it would be a big surprise to me if he didn't improve somewhat due to that influence.

Anonymous said...

It's possible that Ridnour's defense would improve by playing against Watson, but then wouldn't he have improved by playing against Antonio Daniels for two years (who is/was at least as good as Watson)?

I think the only way players improve other players' defense is by shutting down the opponents, a la Theo Ratliff, Mutombo, or Bowen. Those guys command attention on defense, and thereby relieve pressure on their teammates. Because Bowen can guard opposing 2s single-handedly, he keeps his teammates from having to rotate or double-team as often, thereby making them better defenders.

The fact Luke hasn't improved on defense and we are now drawing upon the end of his 3rd year in the league is cause for concern in my mind.

Anonymous said...

On a side note, the Sonics have snuck up on Minnesota and grabbed a share of 3rd place in the Northwest Division. A few more weeks like the recent ones, and we'll be breathing down Denver's neck! Okay, maybe breathing is a stretch, but at least we can see an outline of their body now on the distant horizon.

chunkstyle23 said...

The mention of AD's defense and the AI comments from an earlier post reminded of that FEEELTHY crossover Iverson had on AD a couple weeks back. And of course, there's video of it!

Just humiliated. Made him fall on his butt. TWICE. He looked like he was trying to do some pommel horse gymnastic move. Sorry, AD, but you're immortal now.

Anonymous said...

According to the Times, Danny Fortson is as good as gone as a Sonic, and we can expect him to be traded this offseason.

Which brings up an interesting - and exciting - topic. The Sonics are in the enviable position of having both a lottery pick and a soon-to-be-expiring contract (i.e., Fortson). Both are highly coveted in the league, and the Sonics should be able to quite easily get something of value for one or both.

The question is: What should they do?

The best answer is to identify what holes exist on the roster. To me, if the Sonics are going to acquire talent, it should either be a starting PF or a backup SG. I like watching Wilcox play, and Collison's a solid guy, but neither is an all-star caliber player, and I'd love to see the Sonics get someone who can play well with his back to the basket.

Anonymous said...

Okay, I just got done watching the AI vs AD confrontation, and I feel just plain sad for AD. Isn't it enough that he's played horrible all year? Is this additional torture really necessary?

Thanks alot, Raf. What are you going to find next - pictures of Santa smoking behind the 7-11?

Anonymous said...

I'm going for AD's misfortune. On the dunk/block, you're just getting outhustled and you don't see it coming. AD was looking straight in Iverson's eyes, plus he fell down not once, but TWICE.

Anonymous said...

I want Watson to start next season. His defense is crucial for the starting unit. I also would like to see the Supes draft a defensive point with their top pick (Brewer or Rondo). Let the draft pick develop next season, or package Luke with Rashard and Fortson and get the Big Ticket in Seattle (personal mental whack-off going on here).

Anonymous said...

I want the Sonics to get a young 2-guard in the draft that they can groom to replace Allen. I think it would be nice to bring somebody off the bench who can hit a 3 and bring some instant offense, a la Eddie Johnson and Dana Barros. Anybody know who's coming out this year that would fit this bill?

Anonymous said...

He'd be a nice fit, that's for sure. I guess it'll depend on how low he drops in the draft. I heard some people say that he'll be a top 5 or 6 pick. Maybe the Sonics could trade down and get somebody. They don't need a superstar, just someone who can come off the bench and drain 3's.

Anonymous said...

I can see the need for another shooter, just not with a top ten pick. You can get someone to groom behind Allen with a 2nd round pick or a free agent.