Luke Ridnour finding a home in Milwaukee

By far the most surprising score from Tuesday’s NBA action is the Bucks 100-98 win over the Spurs in San Antonio. Michael Redd led the Bucks with 25 points and 10 boards, while Andrew Bogut held down the middle with 20 points, 14 rebounds, four assists and three blocked shots. More importantly, he limited Tim Duncan to 7 of 20 shooting from the field, which helped the Bucks spring the upset.

But point guard Luke Ridnour might have been the difference in the game. He posted 21 points (on 9 of 15 shooting), six assists, five rebounds, two blocked shots and a steal, and if he didn’t outplay Tony Parker (19 points, 10 assists), then he sure negated him.

Ridnour joined the Bucks as part of the three-team trade that sent Mo Williams to the Cavs in the offseason. He’s 27, and prior to joining the Bucks, he had spent his entire career in Seattle. At the beginning of the season, new head coach Scott Skiles immediately inserted him into the starting lineup and he has responded with solid play, especially recently.

Take a look at Ridnour’s numbers from November and December:

Nov: 10.6 ppg, 4.9 apg, 38.8% FG%, 0.93 spg
Dec: 11.7 ppg, 6.2 apg, 47.7% FG%, 2.08 spg

That jump in field goal percentage is key. He cut back on the number of three pointers he’s taking (from 2.9 to 1.7) and is taking more open mid-range jumpers created off of pick-and-rolls with Bogut.

For much of November, I thought that Ramon Sessions (who is having a great year in his own right) would soon take over as the starter, but with Ridnour’s December play, I’m not so sure. Skiles is a former point guard, and he has two good, underrated options at the position. The key for Ridnour is to keep up that FG%; everyone knows that he can pass the ball.

Sessions is a free agent after the season, and on a per-minute basis he’s still way ahead of Ridnour in terms of production (PER: 16.48 vs. 13.75). Ridnour has another year on his contract. It will be interesting to see how the team handles these two players. I wouldn’t be surprised if Skiles continues to play Ridnour heavy minutes so that he can keep a lid on Sessions’ league-wide profile until the Bucks can lock him up in a long-term deal at a discount. If that’s the case, he has to be careful not to alienate Sessions so much that a rift is created between the player and the head coach. It’s a bad, bad thing when a point guard and his coach aren’t on the same page.

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