The Orlando Magic announced a few days ago that they would be filling out their rotation with the signing of yet another veteran. Thirty-three year old point guard Luke Ridnour has come on board on a two year contract. While once again the Magic have made the kind of pick up unlikely to turn many heads, this move could once more prove to be one that pays off in a big way once the season begins.
Ridnour played for both the Milwaukee Bucks and Charlotte Bobcats (now Hornets) last season, where he filled the role he has for some years now in this league, that of a steady and reliable leader on the floor. Joining the Magic, it is clear straight away that the team will require nothing different for him, just more of the same. He will most likely play back up to rookie point guard Elfrid Payton, but really it is his versatility that was surely the biggest attraction for this young team.
If you’ve watched Ridnour play at any of his previous stops in the league, you will know he is a pass first kind of guard. With the athleticism of many of the young players on this roster, setting the table for them could lead to a lot of highlight plays. Should he start, he would be the perfect foil to second year player Victor Oladipo, who will surely spend much more time in his preferred shooting guard role this year.
Defensively he doesn’t stand out, however in a system he is capable of keeping in front of his man. With Oladipo potentially beside him, they could certainly mesh nicely. The thoughts of himself and the ever improving big man Nikola Vucevic executing on pick and rolls and such is an exciting prospect as well.
However, even if Ridnour leads the second unit instead, he would also fit in perfectly here too. His level of experience and unselfish play would again blend well with the likes of Channing Frye. Teams that are devoid of star power like the Magic tend to lose games because of a lack of depth. However with Ridnour leading the second unit and setting up others, Orlando could remain competitive in more games than last season. That in itself is reason enough to want him on the team.
Let’s look at some of his numbers to date to see where Ridnour can really be of help. Last season for example, he shot 33% from beyond the three point line. Not numbers that will make opponents plan for his long range assaults, but it does allow him to mix things up a bit on the offensive end for his team. For four plays he could call plays to get others open, but on that fifth play he could catch the defending team off guard and create a three point shot for himself. He’s capable of hitting them, and it’s a nice tool to have for somebody not really known for his three point shooting.
Ridnour will never average seven assists a game like during his height in Seattle with the Supersonics, but he’s a different player to who he was then as well. He’s no longer expected to play starter’s minutes and in fact last season he averaged just under nineteen minutes a game. The year before that though he was playing thirty minutes, so what this means is we know he can play substantial minutes if required and that there is potentially and element of freshness and having something to prove to the league.
He is not the type of player who is in the news for the wrong reasons, and so you have to think he will be a really positive influence in the locker room for this team as it grows. Again to show his team orientated play, when he was on the court last year, he provided the assists for one quarter of all points his team scored. His ego is in check, his style of play fits the system well and already he is aware of what his role will be. So what’s not to like?
Well again it keeps in theme with signing veterans to short term deals, which is mostly what Orlando have done this summer. He is not a signing that excites, but again is solid and good at what he does. About the hardest decision that the team will have to make with him is whether or not he starts. He can do a job as a starter, but they would want to be careful not to stunt the growth of Elfrid Payton. But when this is the hardest decision that needs to be made with him, you realize he is a nice pick up for the team.
Really when all is said and done this is the perfect addition to a team that needed point guard cover and all the veteran support it could get. In that respect Orlando have once again been shrewd in the kind of player they have signed up. Now all that we need to see is if he lives up to the modest expectations that have been set for him.