Milwaukee Bucks: What Will Luke Ridnour’s Role Be?


It’s Luke Ridnour‘s third season playing with the Milwaukee Bucks, though not in a row. After playing in Milwaukee from 2008-10, Ridnour spent the last three seasons with the Minnesota Timberwolves. The injury-ridden Wolves never got going last season and as a result, he was an unsung hero of sorts, totaling a career high in minutes and starting in all 82 games. His effort was not always able to compensate for the deficiencies that made him expendable to the Wolves. This offseason Minnesota moved him via sign-and-trade, which created the necessary cap space to sign Kevin Martin, Corey Brewer and Nikola Pekovic.  Now Ridnour finds himself in a similar situation. Though he appeared in every game for the Bucks during the 2009-10 season, he started none, so with Minnesota retooling it’s roster, it only makes sense the Bucks would bring back Ridnour to play a role he’s familiar,  one he can succeed in; Ridnour’s return to Milwaukee also signifies his role will revert back to appearing off the bench.

The 10-year veteran has lost a step since arriving in the league. His defense is a liability. Ridnour is 6’2”, 175 pounds, undersized and also, he’s slow — really slow. Susceptible to being beaten off the dribble, the quicker point guards blow by Ridnour with relative ease. Last season because of injuries he logged minutes at the 2, forcing feeble attempts at defending players like James Harden or Kobe Bryant. He was on an island, overwhelmed by the skill and size of the larger guards. He was posted up against and once the double team would come, the opposing player would kick to the open man or elevate over the mismatch and take a high-percentage look within 10 feet of the rim. The Bucks likely won’t require his services as a 2, but opposing coaches will draw up ways to expose the size advantage if it’s there — which it will be.

Though he’s a facilitator first, Ridnour’s shooting deserves to be recognized.

The colors of the chart signify how Ridnour compares against the league average. Red is below, yellow is comparable and green is above.  Shooting no less than 44 percent from anywhere inside the arc, though not remarkable, is a mark of a veteran point guard.

Chart from Basketball-Reference

He shot 31 percent from 3 last season, which was a career low. This heat chart is based on points scored. Areas with fewer points are shaded blue while areas with more points are shaded with red. Using the shot chart from before we know that Ridnour converted 39-of-105 corner 3s, an average of 37 percent–not horrific considering the Wolves’ personnel problems last season.

Ridnour and Gary Neal are the backcourt of the second unit. They’re both capable ball-handlers and are experienced playing both at the 1 and 2. Possessions featuring Neal as the facilitator place Ridnour in the corner — spacing the floor. This forces the defender responsible for Ridnour to possibly double-team a penetrating guard, which could leave Ridnour open for a corner 3 attempt. He would have the choice to either take the shot or step in and take a more efficient mid-range jumper; leaving the corner in rotation will create space for the 37 percent shooter-from-the-corner to launch a 3-ball or perform a pump fake on the late-arriving defender, stepping into an efficient mid-range jumper.

Ridnour is a player who can’t hurt them going forward. He’s a plug in a hole of the ship whose sailors aren’t sure is really sinking, yet. Brandon Knight and O.J. Mayo are the future in Milwaukee, they’re the starters. Rumors involving the word “tanking” mean minutes for rookie Nate Wolters. Things are about business right now in Milwaukee, the Bucks are trying to sail steady and compete rather than endure the miseries of tanking. Luke Ridnour returning won’t jeopardize team’s future, regardless of where it’s headed.

[slider_pro id=”17″]