As most Spanish NBA fans I´ve been following the Rubio saga with interest. This story has been one of the most interesting and controversial ones in America and Europe. And it has almost only begun. I hope there´s nothing wrong with making a JD about a non Blazer player, so here we go.
I think all of you have enough knowledge about Ricky´s young career, but for those who want to know about where all the hype came from at the time just watch and listen to this Ricky Rubio Story (Documentary in English)
After been selected by the Wolves (5th pick coming from Washington), Ricky decided to stay two more years in Europe to develope his game there before coming to the NBA. At the time Ricky was unanimously considered the best prospect in Europe. Things were going to change soon at the other side of the pond:
Ricky Rubio is destined to be among the great international players such as Darko Milicic, Nikoloz Tskitishvili, and Yaroslav Korolev...
I smell a bust!...
Despite his exceptional basketball senses, his physical and athletic limitations will prevent him from being a star in the NBA. Rubio has drawn comparisons to Steve Nash, which isn’t a bad assessment given his basketball IQ and comparable physical abilities, but let’s be real; Nash is a rare breed. It’s ridiculous to expect this teenager from Spain to be the next Steve Nash.
More after the jump
"In all likelihood, this will not end well for the Minnesota Timberwolves or for Ricky Rubio. He would have been better served working on his game overseas, and having the Timberwolves trade his rights for a useful piece, like maybe a center. Rubio would be more valuable as an unknown entity than he will be on the court."
These two opinions were at some point a consensus among NBA journalists IMHO. At least I missed a single journalist or blogger (other than from the Wolves side) going out there to contest that opinions. Yeah, in this case silence count as agreement ;)
Only after a few NBA games the hype is back, this time with enough of a track record to say Ricky´s impact in the NBA might be unprecedent. I´m going to take a few quotes and links to support what I´m saying:
How many times have you heard the phrase, "If Rajon Rondo had a decent jumpshot, he’d be the best point guard in the NBA"? Anybody who’s been a victim of, or has had to witness the gruelling Rose vs. Rondo debates of 2010 has heard that sentence over and over again. I’m telling you guys right now, you don’t have to look any further! Ricky Rubio IS Rajon Rondo with a better jumper, and he’s going to tear the league up because of it. The one thing that threatens Rondo’s ability to be a superstar is that you can guard him from the free throw line and your team will be better for it. You can’t do that with Rubio right now, and you sure as hell won’t be able to do it three years from now.
After watching him live, I have one thing to say. Go get a ticket and see him. This kid is phenomenal. He creates excitement through the passing game like I haven’t seen in a while. He tosses to wide open players that people in the upper levels didn’t know about. It was incredible. Also, he recently became the starter and plays more minutes every night. Most teams don’t charge crazy ticket prices to see the Timberwolves, so a fan can easily get the bang for his buck to go see him. If you don’t believe me, watch this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FTTnaW0sLgs
Yea, just amazing.
According to Hoopdata.com, his Weighted Assists average of 11.4 per game, which takes into account the added value of an assist that leads to a three-point field goal, leads the NBA.
Though Rubio’s offensive flair has dominated the headlines, he’s also been a key part of the Timberwolves’ defensive improvement this season. Minnesota has jumped from 27th in the defensive efficiency rankings in 2010-11 to 14th this year thanks partly to the defensive prowess of the Spanish guard.
The Timberwolves are allowing 14 fewer points with Rubio on the court than when he’s off the court, the second-best defensive rating on the team among players with at least 100 minutes played, according to basketballvalue.com.
Rubio’s overall impact both on offense and defense while he’s on the court is highlighted by his team-leading plus-minus of +52. Luke Ridnour, the current starting point guard, has the second-worst plus-minus on the team (-48).
"In sum, Rubio gives the Wolves a discernible jolt of energy whenever he enters a game. He keeps his teammates (and the offense as a whole) clicking, makes winning plays and is on his way to being a bonafide franchise player. In other words, Ricky Rubio is a quicker, more athletic, better shooting, twenty-first century version of Bob Cousy.
Magic Johnson, the man who probably knows more about the passing game than anybody in the history of basketball, saw Rubio go 0-for-5 shooting with three assists in an exhibition victory over the Lakers nearly two years ago, and still he came away certain Rubio would be at the very least a good NBA point guard. I told Magic the Timberwolves were nuts for wasting the No. 5 overall pick in 2009 on this kid who kept putting up zeros in international competition. Magic said, and I quote, "You're going to be wrong. Listen to me on this kid. He'll be better in the NBA than he is in Europe because our guys are more athletic and they run to the rim. In Europe, guys don't really run the break; they fan out around the 3-point line, they pump-fake, they look to score in other ways. Our guys are going to see a dude who can pass it like Rubio and run like hell to the rim. Trust me. I didn´t. I was a fool.
But without the ball, it's a whole 'nother "holy cow." BasketballValue tells us that when Rubio is on the court, the Timberwolves are giving up 97 points per 100 possessions. When he's off, that number is 109. It's early yet, and those adjusted plus/minus numbers are particularly vulnerable to small sample sizes. But it looks right now like Rubio is already a difference-maker defending NBA guards, and that his impact on defense rivals all that stuff he's doing at the other end.
He is the best point guard the Wolves have had since Sam Cassell and point guard has been a bottomless pit since Cassell," said Tom Grout in the Fergus Falls Journal. "The fact that he knows how to run an offense at that position is enough of a godsend to this team. The fun part is, he is just a joy to watch and to truly watch him you can not take your eyes of him when he has the ball or you will miss something.
Through the first nine games of the season, Rubio has averaged 9.9 points, 7.4 assists, 3.9 rebounds and 1.3 steals per game. He’s averaged those numbers off the bench.
Those are mind-blowing stats for a rookie who has to adjust to a much different style of play after having no offseason to work with his team.
Rubio is clearly a very well-rounded player. But it doesn’t stop there. He’s also being extremely efficient. His player efficiency rating is 17.59, which ranks sixth in rookies. That’s very good considering he isn’t a starter or the main option on his team.
The rookie point guard is shooting 45 percent from the field, 70 percent from the free-throw line and 50 percent from beyond the arc. Rubio doesn’t take shots unless he has a good shot at making them. He’s a true, pure point guard.
While his biggest contributions have been on the offensive end thanks to his up-tempo style and excellent court vision, Rubio has also been a difference maker on defense. Adelman wasn’t sure how effective Rubio would be on the defensive end, but he has been impressed.
While Rubio is already one of the leading candidates for Rookie of the Year, he’ll only get better over time. There are many times when his teammates aren’t ready for his brilliant passes, but that will change as they get used to what Adelman describes as his "adventurous" style of play. His development is years ahead of schedule and he may become one of the top facilitators in the league in the very near future. Rubio is taking the league by storm as a rookie, but the best is yet to come in Minnesota.
Already, New Orleans coach Monty Williams suggests Rubio, once he fills out that scrawny body these next few years, could, because of his height and those arms, redefine a position at which he has been compared a time or two to the man who last redefined it, two-time league MVP Steve Nash.
He defends better than Nash, better than most point guards coming into the league right away," Williams said. "I watch him on film and he has been surprising because I didn't think he was that good, I didn't think he'd be that good this early. He's going to fill into that body and he'll be able to guard some 2s [shooting guards], maybe even some 3s [small forwards]. He could very well change that position.
What Rubio has also done is give a basketball lifers like myself another must see performer, and a reason to pop for the NBA league pass. He reminds me of a more controlled Jason Williams. No, not the one who wrapped his bike around a streetlight…The other one. You find yourself jumping out of your seat when he drives to the hoop, or throws a Magic Johnson like pass. Those precision passes have a flair about them, just like his entire game. And unlike J-Will, Rubio has the basketball IQ of a 12 year vet. I never got to see "Pistol’ Pete Maravich other than YouTube highlights, but you can see that resemblance too. And you have to make the Steve Nash comparison, but I’ll argue Rubio will prove to be the more complete player in time.
Ricky Rubio is an aberration not because of his exotic hair, nationality, endearing accent or teen-idol charm. Rubio is an aberration for reasons as fundamental and useful as a bounce pass.
He’s the rare subject of hype who turns out to be better than advertised. He’s the rare NBA player who prides himself on unselfishness. He is the rare athlete who succeeds because of savvy and intelligence rather than athletic ability.
Whether this should be considered a compliment to him or an insult to his team, it is true: 10 games into his NBA career, Rubio is the second-best player on the roster.
His NBA profile Take a look at his last three game stats.
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