There 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 bowling.com?
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.