Originally posted on Bloguin Best  |  Last updated 12/27/11

There's not a single person in the world who could have predicted Ricky Rubio's first assist.

With is NBA career less than five minutes old, Ricky brought the ball up on the break against the Oklahoma City Thunder and spotted.... J.J. Barea. Barea was filling the lane on the left, and Ricky dropped a simple bounce pass to him for the layup. That opened up a four assist in four minute barrage that left jaws dropped. The absolute best of the bunch was an NBA 2K glitch of a pass that spun through two defenders and into Anthony Randolph's hands for an easy lay in.

There were a lot of eyes on this game. The Target Center, which is not exactly known for its long lines at concession stands, was packed. NBA types all over had tuned in. They all wanted to see if this kid's saga was worth the wait.

The early answer is a resounding yes.

Of course, this was only one game. There are 65 left, in all likelihood, in the Timberwolves season. Ricky will have ample opportunity to stumble, have a six turnover game, or be generally unimpressive. But last night, for the first 26 minutes of his NBA life, he was pretty damn good.

His six assists weren't cheap. According to HoopData, five of them led to shots at the rim. The sixth led to a shot inside of 10 feet. That's important because it will get his teammates in the habit of getting to the rim so Rubio can find them. And if he finds them like he found them last night, they should be ready to catch the ball even when it doesn't look like the pass can get through. Bounce passes were spun at impossible angles, through defenders and into his teammates hands.

Well, they didn't ALL land in teammates' hands. Some spun out. And some passes weren't finished. So the six points, six assist box score doesn't tell the whole story about how Rubio's night went.

And more important than the highlights was the fact that Rick Adelman trusted Rubio to stay in the game until the end. Rubio calmly directed traffic with a confidence that belies his age. He hit an off balance jumper to keep the Wolves within three. Then later, with 3:21 left, Rubio drew a charge on Russell Westbrook and then immediately hit a jumper to put Minnesota up one.

Yes, I was dazzled by the highlights. I was amazed by some of the plays. And I was awestruck by that sequence I just laid out. For a night, the Rubio hype machine sucked me in. But it did so because Ricky was making the plays that lived up to all of that build up. That Minnesota lost was almost secondary here. For much of the 26 minutes he was on the floor, Rubio showed us that David Kahn actually had a reason, and not some bizarre guard fetish, that made him wait all this time.

It is not lost on me that Ricky made mistakes. He will have to become a better defender. And I'm sure his shooting ability will show itself. His passes won't always hit their targets and there is no doubt that Ricky will struggle. But we saw signs last night, against a consensus choice for the NBA Finals, that Rubio has the raw ability to succeed in this league. He has the ability to make life easier for Derrick Williams and Kevin Love. And if he truly is a magician, he can maybe help Michael Beasley with his field goal percentage.

But I won't ask that much of the kid just yet. Right now, I'm happy to have enjoyed night one. And I'm happy to have seen something in him that makes me think he'll be ok. And I'm happy that he's only 21, and that this might only be the beginning.



Cincinnati blew game despite 99.9 percent win probability

Jordan Poole made nearly identical buzzer-beater in H.S.

Jim Boeheim thinks playing in Detroit hurt Michigan State

Becky Hammon turns down Colorado St. to remain with Spurs

Twins SS Jorge Polanco gets 80-game suspension for PEDs


10 biggest NFL free agent busts from the last decade

Refs escorted off floor after controversial Raptors-Thunder ending

Rondo: Ray Allen just seeking attention with new book

Raiders to trade Cordarrelle Patterson to Patriots

2018 Masters shaping up to be one for the books

Nevada's comeback win over Cincinnati more improbable than Patriots' Super Bowl LI win

Winners & losers from the NCAA Tournament's opening rounds

Cavaliers Notes: Lue's illness; Calderon's steadiness; LeBron's health

Sports & Politics Intersect: Presidential sports coverage from coast-to-coast

The 'Braves new world' quiz

NHL Weekender: Kings, Avs pushing their way into the postseason

10 biggest takeaways from Thursday’s NCAA Tournament action

Jamal Murray's heel turn is exactly what the Nuggets need

Top 10 players at every MLB position for the 2018 season

Women discuss breaking barriers in sports and in life at San Jose State University

Why Trae Young will be an NBA star

Teams to watch and avoid in the 2018 tournament

Under-the-radar NCAA Tourney prospects

NBA News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Yardbarker Privacy Policy and Terms of Service. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.

Winners & losers from the NCAA Tournament's opening rounds

Sports & Politics Intersect: Presidential sports coverage from coast-to-coast

The 'Braves new world' quiz

NHL Weekender: Kings, Avs pushing their way into the postseason

Top 10 players at every MLB position for the 2018 season

Jamal Murray's heel turn is exactly what the Nuggets need

The '30 for #30' quiz

Why you should watch this year's NCAA Tournament

Why you shouldn't watch this year's NCAA Tournament

Marc-Andre Fleury's resurgence in the desert

For Publishers
Company Info
Follow Yardbarker