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Rounding Out the Rotation

Luke Ridnour VS Earl Watson:

Many, many Sonics fans are calling for Earl Watson to be named the starter over Luke Ridnour based on Ridnour’s defensive shortcomings and the leadership displayed by Watson in the latter part of last season. The organization however seems committed to Ridnour as the point guard of the future and all expectations are that he will be in the starting lineup this season. There is a feeling internally that his dynamic passing abilities and penetration energize the starting unit and will define the Sonics style of play for the next decade.

Ridnour suffered something of a slump last season, his second as a full time starter and his inconsistent play drew the ire of fans. Specifically his inability to hit open jumpers stalled the entire offense. There are legitimate questions as to whether his physical stature will ever allow him to become a dominant player.

After being acquired via trade from Denver Watson provided a stabilizing presence and finished several games. In an extremely surprising move Coach Bob Hill chose to make Earl Watson one of the first substitutions off the bench for Ray Allen, rather than Ridnour. The resulting lineup featuring Watson at SG for the final 4 minutes of the first and third quarters and allowed Ray Allen to play the complete second and fourth quarters.

Watson will get plenty of minutes whether he starts or not. Both players would probably prefer to close the game than start it and the bigger questing may be who will play in the fourth quarter. Watson closed out many of the final games and Ridnour needs to demonstrate the ability to play defense before this will change.

Ridnours critics need to temper their expectations as he enters his fourth year of play. Starting at PG for a 52 win team 2 years ago in only his second season is a large accomplishment and he puts in consistent effort to improve. While Watson is well known as a hard worker Ridnour’s commitment is legendary. His dedication and hard work continue to win him fans among his teammates, coaches, the organization, and even the media. Watson is simply not enough of an upgrade to strip the teams hardest working player of a position which he has already been awarded.