Ricky Rubio (Minnesota Timberwolves) versus Jeremy Lin (New York Knicks)
Ricky Rubio is a point guard for the Minnesota Timberwolves who gained instant fame by turning pro in Spain at the extremely young age of 14. He was a prized prospect who was on every NBA GM’s radar. After having an underwhelming season last year for Regal Barcelona, Rubio came to Minnesota and took the league by storm in his rookie season.
Only a season-ending ACL tear could slow Rubio down as his knee buckled against the Lakers on March 9th. Nonetheless, Rubio was able to reinvigorate a fan base that hasn’t had much to cheer about since the departure of Kevin Garnett. Timberwolves fans have a lot to be excited about in their young duo of Kevin Love and Rubio.
Jeremy Lin is a point guard for the New York Knicks and he gained fame this season with an unbelievable run where he averaged 24.4 ppg and 9.1 assists over a period where the Knicks went 7-0. He has been called the savior for the Knicks and is being held largely responsible for their Eastern Conference resurgence. He is a very intelligent player who gels well with the star-studded Knicks lineup. Like the fans in Minnesota, New Yorkers have much to be excited about in their new point man.
Both of these players are electrifying talents, but who will be the better pro in five years?
- Rubio has never been known for his shooting and even though he was having a memorable rookie season, he was doing so while shooting a poor 36% from the floor, including 35% from deep and 80% at the line. He’ll never be a player known for his shot-making ability but I do see him improving his FG percentages as he ages and learns to take more high-percentage shots. A key for Rubio will be consistency as he had 7 games this season with only 1 made FG. Going forward the Wolves will need him to pick up a bit of the scoring without many solid options surrounding Kevin Love. GRADE: C
- Lin has always been an average shooter extending back to his days in Harvard. The difference for him is maturity. So far this season he has been able to adjust his game on the fly. In games where his teammates are having a tough time scoring, he will take more shots. On the contrary, he knows when to distribute the ball as evidenced by his 4 different performances of dishing out 13+ assists so far this season. His maturity combined with an average to above average jumpshot allow him to be effective in halfcourt sets with a loaded Knicks squad. GRADE: B-
- Distributing the ball is what makes Ricky Rubio who he is. He is often compared to Steve Nash and Pete Maravich just based on passing ability. Truth is, Nash and Maravich are/were much better scorers than Rubio will ever be but any time you find someone who can deliver pin-point passes like Rubio, you get him. They are once-in-a-decade talents who have an indescribable ability to make their teammates better. Don’t believe me? Check out Kevin Love’s statistics this year with Rubio. GRADE: A+
- Jeremy Lin is a good passer as well but even he isn’t anywhere close to Rubio’s level. Lin does a nice job penetrating the lane but he can be extremely careless with his passes. Lin is best passing the ball in transition where he can make a strong bounce pass with either hand to cutting teammates. I expect Lin to continue to mature as a player and cut down on the turnovers while continuing to set up his teammates. GRADE: B+
- Rubio does an excellent job rebounding the ball on the defensive end and turning it into fast break opportunities. Being 6’4 and having long arms also doesn’t hurt his ability to rebound. He is an above average rebounding point guard. GRADE: B
- Lin is also an above average rebounder as he anticipates the bounce off the rim well. He has good size at 6’3 and uses it well to get position on sometimes bigger guards. He doesn’t gather quite as many boards as Rubio even though his team doesn’t have a dominant rebounder like Kevin Love. GRADE: B-
- On the defensive end, Rubio is a psychic. He is a below average on-ball defender but his incredible ability to anticipate lazy passes and get his hands on loose balls allowed him to average 2.2 steals per game. If he was a better on ball defender I’d give him an A. GRADE: B
- Lin struggles to defend and is often exposed when other teams isolate against him. He is a hard worker who averages 1.6 steals per game based solely off of great effort. Lin will need to work hard to improve his lateral quickness to become a better defender in the future. GRADE: C-
- Until Rubio’s torn ACL, he had not missed a game the entire season. There were many questions surrounding whether or not he could handle the physicality of the NBA. I think he can handle it and the torn ACL was a freak incident and a case of bad luck. I think a little work in the gym would serve Rubio well to make him more durable to be able to handle the long grind of an NBA season. I can’t give Rubio a great grade considering he just suffered an injury that could have lingering effects on his career down the road. GRADE: D+
- Jeremy Lin is a tough player who never missed a game in college due to injury and still hasn’t been forced out of NBA action due to injury. Durability is an underrated part of any players’ legacy and if Lin can continue to stay consistently healthy who knows what he is capable of. GRADE: A
- If Ricky Rubio is able to have a successful return from his knee injury and avoid future injury then the sky is the limit. I think he will be a player who averages right around 12 points a game and 10 assists per game throughout his entire career. His charisma and popularity will make him a regular at All-Star Weekends. GRADE: A-
- Jeremy Lin is an outstanding talent and a phenomenal kid, but his abilities are a little more limited than Rubio’s. His role with the Knicks fits him perfectly and I think it’s a huge reason why he has been able to do so well. I see him averaging about 13 points per game and 7 assists per game for his career with a couple All-Star appearances. GRADE: B
As of right now, I’d argue that Jeremy Lin is the better player by a sliver. That said, I would not be surprised one bit if Rubio is the better player two years from now. Both of these players have a chance to be special but if I had to choose just one, my money is on Ricky Rubio.
Guest Writer- COLE KRUEGAR