I don’t know if Ricky Rubio ever ran with the bulls inPamplona, Spain but he sure has the Minnesota Timberwolves running this year. Rubio’saggressiveness in the open court and ability to see the floor has made the gamea lot easier for his teammates this year.
The Timberwolves are actually averaging three lesspossessions per game than they did last season but they are winning more. The T’wolveshave won 16 games so far this year which puts them just one game shy of theirwin total for the whole 2010-2011 season and the biggest reason for that hasbeen Rubio’s passing.
How adept is Rubio as a passer? In 82 games last season, theT’wolves only had seven games where one of their players had 10 or moreassists. In only 32 games so far this season Rubio has already accomplishedthis feat 13 times including a streak where he topped 10 assists for fourconsecutive games.
It’s a good thing he is creating easy scores for othersbecause his shooting numbers have tailed off. Rubio started the season shootingover 50% but his shooting percentage is currently sitting around 38% at themoment. While not particularly a good thing, his poor shooting hasn’t beenproblematic for them either. Mainly because the T’wolves have the league’sleading rebounder Kevin Love in the paint snatching up a lot of those missedshots.
Rubio is not a bad rebounder himself and is currently rankedninth among guards in defensive rebounding with four per game. Being soaggressive on the boards allows Rubio to get his team into transition quicklyand keep opposing defenses on their heels.
One of the reasons why Rubio is able to concentrate so muchon defensive rebounds though is because Coach Rick Adelman allows Rubio toguard shooting guards rather than the opposing team’s point guard. Rubio is usuallypaired up with point guard Luke Ridnour in the lineup in order to keep him frombeing exploited by some of the speedier point guards around the league.
Despite his one-on-one defensive deficiencies, Rubio hasproven to be a very effective defender in the zone and as a help defender. Hisability to anticipate where the ball is going has him ranked second in in theleague in steals with 2.34 per game. Steals as you know are another tool thatpassing point guards like Rubio use to initiate the fastbreak.
So for those Rubio fans who think that he has made aseamless transition from the European league to the NBA, it hasn’t been quitethat simple. Just as many scouts predicted Rubio has both struggled with hisshot and his defense but having a seasoned coach with the basketball acumenthat Adelman possesses has helped a lot.
Adelman has shaped the T’wolves into a team rather than thecollection of individuals they were when Kurt Rambis was coaching them. He has his players playing to their strengthsand has the team as a whole playing as a cohesive unit which covers some oftheir individual deficiencies; especially Rubio’s.
Which means Rubio gets to shine in the spotlight andcontinue to wow fans with his highlight-worthy passing ability. I guess it’strue that winning covers a multitude of sins because nobody pays attention tohow bad his defense and shooting are as long as the T’wolves are winning andplaying exciting basketball. Roosevelt Hall is an NBA Blogger for The Sport Mentalist 2 and also writes for Shatter The Backboard. He can be contacted at RHall@shatterthebackboard.com. Follow him on Twitter @sportmentalist
<span style="font-family: "Calibri","sans-serif"; font-size: 11pt; line-height: 115%;"> and add him on Facebook Roosevelt Hall Thesportmentalist.
<span style="font-family: "Calibri","sans-serif"; font-size: 11pt; line-height: 115%;">