How Ricky Rubio Can Improve His Game for Minnesota Timberwolves

Tom SchreierCorrespondent IJanuary 30, 2013

WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 25: Ricky Rubio #9 of the Minnesota Timberwolves dribbles the ball while being guarded by John Wall #2 of the Washington Wizards during the first half at Verizon Center on January 25, 2013 in Washington, DC. 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 Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Rob Carr/Getty Images

As Ricky Rubio continues to recover from his knee injury, we’re starting to see the quickness that will make him an elite defender in this league and hopefully improve his offensive game.

The major concern for the Spaniard right now, however, is whether he’s ever going to be an adequate shooter.

First of all, it’s not a bad thing that he’s not an elite shooter. Obviously, it’s nice to have five players on the court who can score, but if the one guy lagging behind is a point guard known for his passing wizardry, his lack of scoring would be accepted.

In fact, it might even be welcomed. After all, nobody wants to have a point guard on their team who hoists up three-pointers early in the shot clock or ends up taking a bad shot because he doesn’t know where to go with the ball. (Believe me, Rubio will never be that kind of player.)

Still, you would like your point man to shoot somewhere around the league average, which for point guards is around 43 percent overall and 35 percent from beyond the arc.

Right now, Rubio is making less than ten percent of his three-point attempts.   

It doesn’t get much better from the field, where Rubio has made only 25 percent of the shots he has taken. Yes, you read that correctly: He has made only a quarter of his shots this season.

In case you’re wondering, that’s not good.

Of course, there are point guards that excel at shooting—Tony Parker, Steve Nash and Chris Paul—but Rubio’s shooting worse now than Jamaal Tinsley, Mike Conley and Deron Williams…by quite a distance.

This may be injury related.

Not only has Rubio been sidelined due to injury—something that would prevent him from getting into a shooting rhythm during a game—but he’s also a step slower, meaning he will have trouble freeing himself from a defender away from the ball and creating his own shot.

If I were Rick Adelman (and, trust me, the Wolves faithful has to be thankful I’m not), I would suggest that Rubio call more pick-and-rolls to increase his three-point percentage.

I’d have Andrei Kirilenko, Nikola Pekovic or Dante Cunningham set a pick behind the arc so Rubio can put himself in a position to either shoot a more open three-point shot or pass the ball to a player heading to the hoop.

My guess is defenders are going to be inclined to play the pass at first, just knowing that Rubio is an elite passer and poor three-point shooter. This should give him a little more space than, say, Nash or Parker would get and allow him to hit a shot and find his rhythm.

In terms of correcting his shooting from the floor, I’d have Rubio find a spot from where he likes to shoot. Once he finds that, the point guard should work on making entry passes from that spot on the floor so that a big in the low post can kick it back out to him. Taking this approach, Rubio can spot up rather than try to create his own shot off the dribble.

Hopefully this will help him make shots early in the game, which will give him confidence. As he gets healthier and gets more playing time, he’ll get more minutes to improve his shooting percentage.

Rubio is never going to be a volume shooter, and for that the Wolves should be thankful, but hopefully a couple adjustments to the team’s game plan will allow the Spaniard to knock down a shot or two when his name is called upon.


All statistics courtesy of

Tom Schreier covers the Timberwolves for Bleacher Report and writes a weekly column for