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 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.

21 comments:

smallie 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.

Nuss 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.

Nuss 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.

trap said...

I played against Ridnour for 2 years in High School.. I don't think it's a matter of him not wanting to play defense, or not having the experience, it's a matter of him not having the athleticism and foot speed. Let's face it, he's always going to need help.

That said, Nash can't play a lick of D either, and if I'm picking teams he'd be my first choice for PG. Amazingly, Luke is already way ahead of where Nash was after his 3rd year (7.9PPG, 5.5APG, 36%FG for Nash vs. 11.7PPG, 6.9APG, 41% FG for Ridnour).

Ridnour is going to be a very, very good offensive player in this league for a long time and he's going to make everybody around him better on offense as well. That said, he needs to be surrounded with the right personel, people like Watson who can play lockdown D.

b_con said...

Watson and Luke make a good tandem, that much is obvious. I'd like to see Watson start for a bit to see what happens. Watson's game is more helter-skelter than Luke's so coming from the bench may be the better option for Earl. Either way, they both merit 25-30 minutes a game, especially with how well Watson's done and Luke's newfound stroke. Please now Sund, trade Rashard for a high pick (aka Gay or Morrison) and pick up B-Roy. We'd have a ten man rotation with 2 PG's (a shooter and a stopper), Ray and with Roy backing him up, Damien the solid defense and slashing with a young potential star scorer off the bench at SF, Wilcox and Collison, another great combo at PF, and the twins at center. Add a veteran center willing to sit a lot but play when the twins are down, a 3rd PG (conroy!), the corpse of Fortson, and some hungry bench guys, and we're looking good. Keep Hill around, the man's doing his job now, and imagine if he had a REAL training camp.

b_con said...

Watson and Luke make a good tandem, that much is obvious. I'd like to see Watson start for a bit to see what happens. Watson's game is more helter-skelter than Luke's so coming from the bench may be the better option for Earl. Either way, they both merit 25-30 minutes a game, especially with how well Watson's done and Luke's newfound stroke. Please now Sund, trade Rashard for a high pick (aka Gay or Morrison) and pick up B-Roy. We'd have a ten man rotation with 2 PG's (a shooter and a stopper), Ray and with Roy backing him up, Damien the solid defense and slashing with a young potential star scorer off the bench at SF, Wilcox and Collison, another great combo at PF, and the twins at center. Add a veteran center willing to sit a lot but play when the twins are down, a 3rd PG (conroy!), the corpse of Fortson, and some hungry bench guys, and we're looking good. Keep Hill around, the man's doing his job now, and imagine if he had a REAL training camp.

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.

Nuss 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.

Biggie said...

I was kinda like wtf, when a mock draft had us picking Shelden williams. but now I'm thinkin' it's not a bad idea. Especially seeing the game he had last night. I'd still like to see us pick up Rodney Carney though if he's still there, maybe we could trade fortson and our pick for a higher pick and get Aldrige from texas. I still want to see B Roy in the Green and Gold.

nuss 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?

Lance Uppercut said...

Which is more embarassing: Getting your shot blocked on a fast break, a la Tayshaun Prince, or getting your ankles broken, a la Antonio Daniels.

Lance Uppercut said...

Tayshaun doing the swatting of course. I guess that wasn't too clear.

nuss 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.

b_con said...

Another slap in the Sonic's face... kind of. They were NOT chosen as one of the top 5 most disapointing teams in the NBA by Marc Stein. WTF?! Winning 52 games, and having the 4th best record in the NBA over the last 11 years means nothing of course, when you're in Seattle... This just goes to show you how little the rest of the country cares about Seattle sports.

dick tate 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).

ryan 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?

b_con said...

JJ Reddick....

ryan 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.

dick tate 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.

b_con said...

I dunno, I feel that Allen, Lewis, and Ridnour are enough shooters.