By now, every basketball fan has heard a lot about Spanish sensation Ricky Rubio: once-in-a-lifetime passing skills, uncanny court sense, and a basketball IQ that is far beyond that of any other 18 year old. However, a prospect as highly touted as Rubio had two problems working against him, his mediocre shooting ability (which isn't bad, but not great) and his jaw-dropping $5.11 Million buyout. Because of the buyout, Ricky won't be in the NBA until 2011 at earliest, a year that could feature a work stoppage. This is really sad, because Ricky Rubio could have been one of the NBA's best foreign players.....ever.
Look at the current T-Wolves roster. They have a nice young point in Jonny Flynn, an athletic swingman in Corey Brewer, and one of the top young trio of frontcourt players in the NBA in Kevin Love, Ryan Gomes and Al Jefferson, but there is one glaring weakness: shooting guard. Damien Wilkens isn't starter level, Wayne Ellington is a great shooter (but as a UNC fan, I'll tell you he can't do much else), and Bobby Brown had to leave Whitney Houston to get this job.
Now, how could this entire situation have been avoided? Lets say, with the 5th pick, Minny takes Ricky and use the 6 pick for another asset. It could be an experienced vet like Vince Carter (before Orlando took him) or a young asset like Steph Curry, it does not matter. Now the starters are Rubio, Curry, Gomes/Brewer, Love, and Jefferson. Would that team be killed by teams with size? Of course. Would this be one of the most exciting young teams in basketball? Of course.
Sadly, Minny took an insurance policy on Rubio. They took Johny Flynn (who I do like, don't get me wrong) in case they could not afford Rubio's buyout, and that's exactly what happened. Now, Minnesota has no Rubio, no Curry, no proven player in their backcourt, and Jonny Flynn. If I were a Minnesota fan, not only would I pray Rubio doesn't pull a Fran Vazquez (Spanish sensation, never makes it), but that he comes ready to face the pressure a big name like himself will bring to a small market.
Look, I'm not going to say Ricky Rubio is the next Pete Maravich. Not only is that played out, but it is not fair to an unproven 18 year old to be compared to one of the 50 greatest players of all time. I will say the better comparison is a more like a young Jason Kidd: he sometimes makes shots, but his passing, IQ and defense are off the charts. However, lets just hope this Spanish export is more like Pau Gasol than Fran Vazquez.
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