Nov 23, 2012; Portland, OR, USA; Minnesota Timberwolves point guard Luke Ridnour (right) drives to the basket past Portland Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard (0) at the Rose Garden. Mandatory Credit: Craig Mitchelldyer-US PRESSWIRE

The importance of a Point Guard: The less than impressive statistical start to Luke Ridnours season

The importance of a good point guard in today’s NBA just can’t be understated. For as much as Luke Ridnour is a good person, statistics don’t argue the fact he isn’t in the same league as other NBA point guards, or even point guards on his own team. While Luke is serviceable, at times, he has more times than not he’s just a liability on both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball this season. Take this season so far, his .04 defensive win share (a Win Share is worth one-third of a team win. Win Shares are assigned to players based on their offense, defense, and playing time), it is his lowest since his second season in the league, 05-06, when it was 0.00. While Luke has never been known as a defensive stopper, he’s statistically worse this season than ever. His DRtg (defensive rating is the premise of individual defense that players force “defensive stops) is the lowest it’s been in his career. Lukes PER (a player efficiency rating, which is the metric that boils down all of a player’s contributions into one number) is at 14.3. Since the PER formula uses 15 as a base number, Luke is a negative in PER, which is one of the lowest in his career.

Traditionally Luke gets absolutely victimized by athletic point guards, and in a league that is seeing a huge influx of athletic point guards, it is only going to get more difficult for Luke as the season goes on. But, this season Luke is getting beat up by almost every point guard. He is quickly being exposed night after night and this is showing in almost every single statistical category. The real problem is that Luke is not only statistically lower this season; he is the lowest ranked point guard on his team in USG% (an estimate of the percentage of teams plays used by a player while he is on the floor), AST% (Assist Percentage which is an estimate of percentage of teammate filed goals a player assisted while he was on the floor) and VI (Versatility Index which is a metric that measures a player’s ability to produce points, rebounds and assists).

USG%

TOr

FT%

2P%

3P%

TS%

PPG

TRB%

APG

AST%

VI

SPG

Alexey Shved

22.9

0.15

0.84

0.50

0.24

0.50

9.6

6.9

4

32.1

8.5

0.42

Jose Barea

22.8

0.19

0.93

0.43

0.32

0.52

8.7

8.2

4.4

38.5

9.4

0.57

Luke Ridnour

17.2

0.13

0.75

0.44

0.34

0.51

10.6

5.6

4.3

23.9

6.6

1.42

 

While you could use examples of, say a Steve Nash, who is notoriously bad on the defensive end, Steve by far makes up for his defensive short falls with an unparalleled offensive game. While Luke is better on the offensive side of the ball, he isn’t nearly good enough to offset his defensive shortcomings. This season as the team’s starting point guard has been offensively the worst in some categories for his entire career.

Season

PER

TS%

eFG%

AST%

TOV%

USG%

ORtg

DRtg

OWS

DWS

WS

WS/48

2003-04

13.1

0.5

0.45

23.9

17.2

19.3

101

109

0.9

0.2

1.2

0.05

2004-05

14.6

0.5

0.45

30.6

15.4

17.4

112

111

4.3

1

5.4

0.1

2005-06

16

0.51

0.45

32.3

15.3

18.1

112

115

4.4

0

4.4

0.08

2006-07

13.7

0.51

0.47

28.2

16.9

20

103

112

1.4

0.8

2.3

0.05

2007-08

11.3

0.48

0.43

29.5

16.4

17.3

101

112

0.3

0.6

0.9

0.04

2008-09

12.9

0.5

0.45

28.2

15.7

18

105

108

1.2

2.2

3.4

0.08

2009-10

17.7

0.57

0.53

31.9

12.4

22

116

106

4

2.2

6.2

0.17

2010-11

15

0.57

0.53

28.1

17.6

17.8

112

113

3.2

0.8

4

0.09

2011-12

13.6

0.53

0.49

24

13.7

17.8

109

109

2.4

0.9

3.3

0.09

2012-13

13.2

0.51

0.47

23.8

13.3

17.1

106

104

0.4

0.4

0.8

0.1

Career

14

0.52

0.47

28.8

15.5

18.5

109

111

23

9.2

32

0.09

 

He has the second lowest usage% and offensive win share of his career. He is averaging his lowest amount of assists in his career and also is currently at his lowest total win share at any point in his professional history. Again, none of this is a personal attack on Luke, it is a statistical overview. Part of statistics that are very unforgiving is that numbers don’t lie. 1 + 1 is always going to be 2, and 2 + 2 is always going to be 4. Luke’s numbers during his NBA career are comparable to Ricky Davis, Charlie Ward or even Spud Webb. While there is great respect for each of those players, in no way were fans clamoring for the Wolves to pick them up when they were available.

We know the numbers don’t lie, but so far this season, the eye test has shown to have Luke failing also. There are just too many plays in which Luke is taking bad/ill-advised shots on offense. There are also too many times when on defense either Luke just gets lost, beaten or thrown off balance by point guards who are just quicker than he is (which is about most of the league).

When Ricky gets to come back into the fold it will be a very welcome addition. For as much as the Wolves talked about how much the loss of Kevin Love hurt, it is Ricky Rubio which is the most missed Wolf. Ricky has something that can’t be taught; it is a feel for the game, anticipation of passes or reads on defense. Seeing the video of Ricky running on the court before games, hearing that he might be cleared to start cutting and resuming some basketball activities is the most exciting thing of the season to date. This Timberwolves team has talent, but, Ricky is clearly the glue that keeps it together. While Ricky isn’t the most athletic guard in the NBA, he has the length, anticipation and defensive awareness to be an above average defender. That is what has been missing so far this season, is a point guard that can defend.

Tags: Alexey Shved JJ Berea Luke Ridnour Minnesota Timberwolves NBA News Ricky Rubio

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