By Jake McCormick
Two things were always guaranteed when 2009-10 Milwaukee Bucks backup point guard Luke Ridnour checked into a game: He was going to be a Red Bull for the offense, and would drain at least two jumpers 15-20 feet from the basket in the process.Not including John Salmons, the Bucks have five players that will enter the open waters of unrestricted free agency on July 1. Of those five, Ridnour should be at the top of GM John Hammond’s resigning list, thanks to his cheese to Brandon Jennings’ macaroni at the point throughout the Bucks’ surprise playoff run.
Luke Ridnour’s 2009-10 final stat line (82 games):
21.5 mpg, 10.4 ppg, 47.8% FG (38.1% 3FG), 90.7% FT, 4.0 apg, 3.07 assist/turnover ratio
Admittedly, Ridnour’s early season production (above 50% FG in November and December) was so above his career norm that it took about 50 games to accept that he had truly been experiencing a career revival in Scott Skiles’ system.
Although he’s entering free agency unrestricted, Ridnour will most likely command $3 million or less per year in his next contract. No doubt that Bucks GM John Hammond will heavily court Ridnour to return as a Buck, and not just because he can come into a game cold and jump start a stagnant offense. Much like with every other player that donned a Milwaukee uniform in 2009-10, Ridnour’s attitude and work ethic sell his services as much as his production.
At the beginning of the season, it was a complete unknown as to how Ridnour would respond to backing up a 20-year-old rookie starting at the most important position in basketball. After all, he would only be human if he took issue with an unproven player edging out a quality veteran as captain of the ship.
Instead Ridnour chose the classy route by embracing and accepting his role in the team’s plans, and the end results were one of his best seasons to-date and a chance to continue thriving as a quality bench player on almost any team in the league.
Although per 48 minute stats should be taken with some sea salt and vinegar, they can give some perspective on how truly effective he was off the bench.
Ridnour’s points per 48 minutes were eighth among all point guards (23.2) and his assists per 48 minutes were more than double his actual total at 8.8 (12th in the league among point guards). The mop-haired point guard also finished 11th in the league in assist-to-turnover ratio per 48 minutes (3.06), and edged Jennings in all three categories. That’s really all you can ask out of a backup quarterback on the court; consistent, efficient, turnover-free production in limited floor time.
If Ridnour decides to take his skills elsewhere, Milwaukee will have a tough time fishing for an equal impact back up in free agency. But if he decides to return to the city that helped resurrect his career, Milwaukee will be one puzzle piece closer to a repeat playoff appearance.