This week Sonicscentral.com will be offering our letter grades for this year's Sonic team. Today our authors offer our grades on Luke Ridnour:
Jon Sunvold: C+
I yo-yo on my opinion of and hopes for Ridnour. On the one hand, he's
a "real" point guard, who passes often and well; who gets the ball to
his teammates where they want it and where they can suceed. He shoots
lights out from the free throw line, which seems to bode well for his
outside shot, and is absolutely brilliant in the open court, which is
important because our team is built to run. There are even times when
he even has a touch of magic, bringing that special "aha" to the game.
On the other hand, Ridnour seems too slow and slight to succeed in the
half court, where he tends to struggle. He can't really break
opponents down, and even when he uses the pick, he seems to take too
long to get going in the right direction. Because of his size and
absence of speed, he also struggles with his shot. Luke strikes me
as a guy who'd NEVER lose a game of H-O-R-S-E but has a harder time
getting his rhythm with world class athletes running with and at him.
I believe he'll come around, but I am worried. He'll go through two
games where the shot falls and then another two weeks where he's 1-10.
Until he complained about 4th quarter playing time, I thought this was a guy
who brought the right attitude to the game and the team. I take
Sonicsman's point that he deserves the benefit of the doubt, but I
can't shake my being annoyed at someone who simply doesn't get why the
coach is playing someone who is playing so very well.
I won't elaborate Ridnour's defensive liabilities. He clearly works
hard, he gets his hands on plenty of balls, but opponents get far too
excited to face him.
Luke has the chance of being a very good point guard, and could
certainly be a lights-out backup; one who can change the pace of the
If I'm Supes management, I DON'T script him in as the starter. I
keep my eyes open. I let him develop, but if another option comes
along, see if he can take to the backup position.
He shot great in January and April. If he can play like that all year, there won't be any
question about who should start next year. Right now,
Luke is probably somewhere working on his jump shot.
Big Chris: B
Luke is #9 in the NBA in assists per game (#7 in total assists), in spite of sharing time at PG. He has improved in many areas, but unfortunately not as much as was hoped by some/many (myself included). Luke was also #5 in the league in Assist/Turnover ratio. Add to that being #15 in the league in steals and you have some good things to build on. He clearly needs to become more consistent in his shot. He need to continue to develop ways to finish around the paint with bigger players nearby. He still needs to improve his defense, working on keeping his man in front of him to help out the developing front court players.
If graded individually he'd get an A- for offense and a D for defense. Because they're graded as one, he gets
Mr. Baker: B-
Does he need another player, Watson, to push him to play better? Put on some muscle to be able to apply some body pressure once in a while, shoot better than 29% from the 3, and worry about you motivating you Luke.
Brian Robinson: C+
Honestly of all the players I place a lot of the blame for our poor start on his poor play. Maybe our expectations for him are too high. I wound up really liking the tandem of him and Watson but wonder if Luke will ever be the type of guy who can just hold down the PG position? For that matter can any team ever be really successful without that kind of guy at the PG position?
Before the season started last summer I wrote an article about Sonics management taking a gigantic risk in handing over the reins to Luke Ridnour. At the end of last year everyone expected Luke to take another step forward in his development and become a 35 minute per game player. In the final anaysis I think Luke did take a step forward on offense once Bob Hill took over; it was readily apparent that Hill was encouraging Luke to be more assertive offensively than he had been at any time in his career -- and Ridnour responded by having a great year shooting the basketball. However, his newfound shooting touch seemed to come at the cost of any defensive development and towards the end of the season he was just plain sloppy in directing the fast break, relying mostly on lobs and just trying too hard to make passes that weren't there. Luke can be more consistent and has room to grow, but he'll likely always need a platoon partner. Luckily for the Sonics Watson certainly appears to be that partner, regardless of who starts the Sonics have a nice 1-2 punch at the point guard position.
CUMULATIVE GRADE FOR LUKE RIDNOUR: B-