There was considerable talk around the time of the Earl Watson trade that this move was going to spur Luke Ridnour to greater heights; that the reason he wasn’t playing to the level people expected this season was because he lacked adequate motivation, unlike the past two seasons when Antonio Daniels was there to spur him on.
Well, has adding Watson made a difference? Let’s take a look.
For simplicity’s sake, I’ve marked the cutoff point as March 1st, even though Watson’s first game in a Sonic jersey came on February 28th. Actually, I did this because I’m too lazy to add up all of Ridnour’s stats from the beginning of the year through February 20th; it’s just too darn hard. It’s a lot easier just to take his numbers on a monthly basis.
Anyway, it’s a relatively small sample size (18 games) to look at, but the numbers do show some intriguing insights.
1. Luke Ridnour is having a terrible April. If you include the March 31 game against the Lakers when he went 0-for-8, Frodo has shot 15-for-43 in his last five games, which isn’t great even for 3-point range, let alone inside the arc. While his assist figures are still admirable, he’s been turning the ball over way more often this month than normal.
2. Overall, Watson’s arrival has put of an offensive push into Luke’s game, specifically the passing game. After averaging between 8.9 and 9.7 assist per 48 minutes for the first four months, Ridnour jumped out to 11.3 assists per 48 in March, without a corresponding increase in turnovers. That’s a great sign.
3. His three-point shooting is as inconsistent as ever. Here are Luke’s numbers per month from 3-point land, percentage-wise: 23, 31, 33, 16, 41, 14. That’s borderline Jason Kidd circa 1995. As a reference, here’s Earl Watson’s numbers this season: 33, 43, 39, 40, 39, 53. Much better, obviously.
4. Luke’s steals and points per 48 minutes are essentially unchanged.
But back to the point of the story: Has Watson’s presence made any difference in Ridnour’s game? The honest answer: No, at least beyond a decrease in minutes. Obviously, it will take more than 18 games to tell us the impact the one point guard has on the other, but from this vantage point it is clear that Watson is outperforming Ridnour, and that Watson’s arrival has not coincided with an improvement in Frodo’s game.
Whether Ridnour will continue to improve on his own just from maturity is unknown, and of that his detractors should take heed. However, it seems to be clear that adding Watson to the equation is not making difference.