Why Ricky Rubio Will Win NBA Rookie of the Year

Max MinskerCorrespondent IJanuary 14, 2012

NEW YORK - JUNE 25:  NBA Commissioner David Stern poses for a photograph with the fifth overall draft pick by the Minnesota Timberwolves,  Ricky Rubio during the 2009 NBA Draft at the Wamu Theatre at Madison Square Garden June 25, 2009 in New York City. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

There was much debate as to how Spanish sensation Ricky Rubio would perform in the NBA prior to his arrival this season.

His largely inconsistent and ineffective play since he was drafted left many experts wondering how he would do. 

So far, Rubio has been everything Minnesota Timberwolves fans had hoped for. His passes are smooth, his timing is excellent and he even has his shot falling, something few had considered possible just months ago. Fans and journalists alike wrote him off as a scoring threat, but to this point, Rubio has proven everyone wrong.

Shooting 46 percent from the field and a ridiculous 47 percent from beyond the arc, Rubio has proven himself to be a legitimate scoring option when necessary. 

His averages—a modest 10 points, eight assists, four rebounds and 1.6 steals in 29 minutes a game—wouldn't normally thrust him into the Rookie of the Year race, but in a year with a weak rookie class, Rubio's flashy play on an up-and-coming team may be enough to push him over the top. 

Now that Rubio is receiving more minutes on a nightly basis, I see his numbers continuing to improve. Luke Ridnour will eventually have to take on a reserve role, as it's clear Rubio is the future for this Minnesota team. 

There is, however, one flaw in Rubio's game thus far, although it is a fixable one.

He currently is averaging over three turnovers per game, and his rate of turnovers per 48 minutes is currently fifth among point guards.

This is something that's generally considered acceptable for young point guards, and I have no doubt that this is a short-term issue rather than a long-term one. As Rubio becomes more comfortable and experienced, this problem should resolve itself. 

The one question everyone now has to ask is whether or not Rubio can sustain his current level of play.

We know his assists and steals totals likely will remain high; his scoring projections are still up for interpretation. It's hard to believe he will maintain his current pace, but at this point, there's no reason to doubt he will continue to shoot the ball well.

Over the course of the season, I would assert that Rubio's field-goal percentage will go down, but both his free-throw percentage and his free-throw rate will continue to increase. As he finds his place in the offense, his scoring totals will most likely improve, especially with more playing time.

In a year where minutes are hard to come by for rookies, Rubio has both the talent and the opportunity to win Rookie of the Year.

Kyrie Irving, Norris Cole, MarShon Brooks and a few others will be solid competition for the Spanish phenomenon, but in the end, it seems to me that Rubio may have the upper hand in this race.