Ricky Rubio: Can a Teen Survive in the NBA?

In Simmons' FootstepsContributor IJune 23, 2009

On October 15, 2005, a 14-year-old named Ricky Rubio graced the court of the Palau d'Esports de Badalona arena in Badalona, Spain.  Significance? Rubio became the youngest player to ever play in the Spanish ACB League.

You're probably wondering: "Spanish ACB? Why's he talking about soccer?"  Hold on, my friends.  In case you haven't noticed, Europe has a thriving basketball league of its own.  In fact, we've seen some great basketball players emerge from the ACB: Pau Gasol, Carlos Arroyo, Luis Scola, and Rudy Fernandez to name a few.  

Well, on June 25, 2009, you can add another to that list: Rubio.  Let me give you the inside scoop on Rubio:

Rubio, a 6'5" point guard, played his entire ACB and Euroleague career with DKV Joventut.  Never much of a famed scorer, Rubio was well known for his tenacious defense and flashy passes.  In fact, his floor game and lettuce-esque hair remind some of NBA legend Pete Maravich.  

Not only was Rubio one of the elite players in all of Europe, he was one of the elite players in all of Europe during his teenage years.  He's yet to turn 20 and he's already been named "FIBA Europe Young Player of the Year"...twice.

Regardless of his age, Rubio is an incredible player, and he's likely to be chosen amongst the top 10 in this year's NBA Draft.  

Now, for my review of Rubio:

He doesn't look real quick, but he's (somewhat) strong and can get to the rack. However, it's one thing of getting to the basket, but it's another of finishing.  Rubio does just that.  Go ahead, type in "Ricky Rubio" at YouTube.  In every video, you'll see some strong finishes, crazy layups, etc.  Nevertheless, Rubio does an incredible job of finishing.

Rubio usually guards his counterpart, thus giving him a mismatch against a much smaller point guard.  Therefore, Rubio gets a lot of steals and fast breaks.  Man, would the Phoenix Suns love to get this guy.  

Lastly, Rubio is not a superb shooter.  He has more of a "push shot."  In other words, instead of arching into the hoop, he rather pushes it toward the basket. 

That's not what NBA teams are looking for.  They're looking for a play-maker.  Rubio is a play-maker.  When he penetrates to the basket, defenders have to help to stop Rubio.  From there, Rubio can dish to teammates and get an easy basket.  If only it were that easy.

Note to Ricky: The NBA will be much tougher than the ACB.  Guys will be bigger, stronger, faster.  I'm eager to see how he performs.

In my perspective, I see Rubio going to the Sacramento Kings.  

The Sacramento Kings current PG: Bobby Jackson.  Who?  

Jackson is 36 years old, twice the age of Rubio.  He also averaged just 7.5 PPG and 2 APG.  Surely Rubio would be an upgrade.

In my opinion, I think Rubio will be a great point guard.  As much as analysts say how strong and fast you have to be to play at the NBA level, I don't think that applies to this new game we call professional basketball.  Players don't hustle.  We don't see a lot of tight D anymore.  Personally, I think Rubio has everything that can make a great guard with the exception of a jump shot.