This is the eighth post in a series here on Howlin’ T-Wolf ranking the Timberwolves roster player-by-player. Ideally, Derek, Tom or Jonah will post a new player everyday for 13 days. As always, you can follow Jonah (@howlintwolf) Derek (@DerekJamesNBA) and Tom (@Tom_NBA) on Twitter as well.
“WHAT?!” roared the masses, teaming to HowlinTwolf.com to read the latest #TwolfRank. “How could Luke Ridnour be sixth on the countdown? How could he beat Williams? Cunningham? The wreckage of Brandon Roy? Oh wait, fair enough on all three.”
At least, that’s how I imagine the monologue would go in my head. The last sentence was probably wishful thinking.
Lost in the shuffle of Minnesota’s offseason (and we do mean shuffle, the roster turnover was ridiculous) is Minnesota’s backup point guard who seems to be almost an afterthought in many people’s ESPN Trade Machine predictions. Indeed, one would think Ridnour had a JJ Barea level of inefficiency, given the frequency with which his name was thrown around in an attempt to make salaries work, but frankly, that just wasn’t the case.
Eric Maynor is, by most people’s consensus, one of the best back-up point guards in the league, but in many statistical categories, Ridnour beats him. (All of Maynor’s stats are from 2010-2011, since he was injured most of last year).
As you can see, Maynor assisted on more plays than Ridnour, but he also was less efficient, and didn’t shoot nearly as well from the field. Ridnour was as fine a back up point guard as one could ask for, and Adelman even went so far as to start Ridnour at shooting guard for much of the season, given the well-documented failures of one Wesley Johnson (who, thankfully, we won’t have to write a player preview about this season).
But Ridnour’s role will be more important than ever this season. The Timberwolves have their sites set on the playoffs, as well they should. They are a talented young team full of potential, but until Rubio gets back, they need to hold pace with the other Western Conference playoff contenders. There won’t be room in the pack to fall back too far, and Ridnour will be even more instrumental than usual in helping that happen at the beginning of the season.
Thus Ridnour’s high ranking. As always, these rankings are not absolute. If Derrick Williams or Brandon Roy play to the height of their potential, not only will players like Ridnour get bumped down, players in the top 3-5 might actually be displaced as well. But for the time being, and especially for the beginning of the season, Ridnour remains an extremely important cog in the Timberwolves’ machine.
A final thought: Ridnour’s contributions last year get overlooked, and they shouldn’t. The poor guy is a point guard, and he was stuck guarding the Kobe Bryants of the world for much of the season. It couldn’t have been fun (if you’ve ever played out of position defensively on the basketball court, you know how unpleasant it can be), but we never heard anything about him raising a stink or complaining. He just worked his ass off, night in and night out. We definitely shouldn’t stop appreciating that.