La Pistola Part 3: Ricky Rubio's Persona Models NBA Elites
The Minnesota Timberwolves have a weapon waiting overseas that's just waiting to make the jump to the NBA. Pending a lockout, Ricky Rubio will join the Minnesota Timberwolves next season and instantly become their starting point guard.
With a trio of Michael Beasley, Kevin Love and Ricky Rubio next season, complimented by Wesley Johnson, Darko Milicic and Martell Webster, the Timberwolves have a nice nucleus to build around for the future. That being said, remembering the first time I discovered Rubio, I instantly wanted him in a Timberwolves uniform and as luck would have struck, the Timberwolves drafted him and he went to play overseas for two more years.
Now that it's clear to see that he's getting better by the day, some of the Timberwolves executives have confided that Ricky Rubio might have started to become bored playing overseas.
Well, the Timberwolves are bored playing without him (just kidding).
Looking at Ricky Rubio's game, he's absolutely extraordinary to have been playing professional basketball since the age of 14. He's truly a floor general at the age of 19, and he reminds me of so many current and past NBA players. Let's see if I can get some of these comparisons down.
Rajon Rondo's Craftiness and Defensive Awareness
Ricky Rubio makes it look easy
Rajon Rondo is a great passer, as is Rubio, but as far as court vision, Rubio has Rondo beat by a small margin. But it's craftiness that makes guys like Rondo and Rubio deceptive and pass-first point guards.
First, Rondo is an incredible defender and he racks up steals like no other. The difference in Rondo's defense and Ricky Rubio's defense is that Rondo can use his athleticism to block and contest shots from the point guard position (see Rondo block Derrick Rose's shot in Youtube).
Ricky Rubio on the other hand is rumored to have a 6' 9" wingspan, a virtual freak of nature in terms of measurements, and he can pick anyone's pocket with the best of them.
Rondo's defensive instincts come from seeing plays ahead of time, using his speed, quickness and agility to wreak havoc in the passing lanes and get out in transition to hit the open man. Ricky Rubio has an uncanny ability to defend one on one.
Chris Paul on Ricky Rubio,
"When I met Ricky on the court, I knew he had very long arms and I couldn't play much with the ball or he would steal it from me. He is also very unselfish, he has great passing skills. He is like me, we don't try to score, and we try to find the open man to help the team."
What makes Rondo such a great playmaker is that he has an uncanny craftiness to his game. He's not a threat to score, but the way he get's into the paint, the way he directs traffic, he's a threat.
It's unexplainable and unbelievable.
Ricky Rubio's not a threat to score, but the way he get's into the paint and makes jaw-dropping dimes leaves you laughing and amazed.
Jason Kidd's Do-It-All Game
Chris Graythen/Getty Images
Jason Kidd has never averaged under seven assists and five rebounds a game. In his prime, he was a passing, rebounding, defending, shooting, scoring and leading floor general. A perennial all-star, a player that made everything look simple. Triple doubles were the norm for a guy like Jason Kidd.
Standing at 6'4" Jason Kidd was as tall as some 2-guards, but he was a lot smarter than a lot of them, too. Picking his spots, shooting the right shots, deferring to teammates and rebounding the ball to start fastbreak opportunities.
Although he wasn't the greatest shooter, he rarely shot a bad shot—he always played to his limits.
For his career: 13.5 PPG, 9.2 APG, 6.6 RPG, 2.0 SPG, shooting 40% from the field and 34% from the 3-point line.
Ricky Rubio's current season (ACB): 6.4 PPG, 5.5 APG, 3.0 RPG, shooting 32% from the field and 39% from the 3-point line.
While his numbers are underwhelming, his on-court play speaks volumes as to what kind of player he can be. Then take into account that there's more space in the NBA, more pick and roll play and, overall, more point guard play.
Give Rubio a few more seasons of seasoning, and he'll be ready to put up numbers like Jason Kidd's.
Ricky Rubio also stands at 6'3'' at the age of 20; he might still be growing.
Chris Paul's Competitiveness
You rarely see someone play as hard as Ricky Rubio does for the whole game.
Regardless of his team being up 30 points, he's still going hard, making crisp no look passes and dominating the competition. One player that's a true warrior of a point guard in today's NBA is Chris Paul.
Chris Paul is the silent assassin, and you know very well that if he could kill a defender by playing basketball, everyone on the planet will have been murdered. What separates a good point guard from a great point guard is his mean streak, that fire in his eyes.
Chris Paul takes no prisoners, and whether it's guarding a 7-footer, Chris Paul is looking to take an advantage.
Chris Paul has the MVP numbers, but he wouldn't have them without the mindset that everyone is a victim, and he does it so easily.
Ricky Rubio has some of these same traits, and he's not afraid of a challenge.
At the age of 17, Ricky Rubio went against team USA to put up 6 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists and 3 steals, solidifying that he could hang with the league's best. But the fact that he was picking Kobe's pocket, the fact that he was making Jason Kidd look like he was 100 years old, really speaks volumes to his competitive nature.
You can make the argument that he responds better to pressure and that making the leap to the NBA is only going to make him better.
Pistol Pete's Swagger
Pistol Pete was as unique of a point guard as you will ever see.
Ricky Rubio is as unique a point guard as you will see in today's basketball. But the comparison doesn't come from the court skills; it comes from the look.
See, Pistol Pete was a showman. You would love to watch him play because you knew he was going to do something spectacular with the ball.
A moneys' worth player.
Ricky Rubio? Well let's just say that I wouldn't be surprised to see the Timberwolves' broadcasting on ESPN go up tenfold as soon as Rubio makes the jump.
Both are flashy and creative, having that moppy styled hair and hand gestures coming up the court.
Nothing much more to add here except an incredible video.
Allen Iverson's Heart
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
Allen Iverson, while never winning an NBA championship, is the greatest champion to have never won an NBA ring, point blank.
Because he had the heart of one, sacrificing his body game after game, and was the only player that convinced me that he played every single game like it was his last.
He came into the league being stereotyped for being a thug, but he wasn't like that. He put culture into the league: The cornrows were something that showed no fear, the tattoos and demeanor of a true hustler on the court.
But when it came to Allen Iverson's heart, there will never be another player with half as much heart as Iverson had.
No matter if you knocked him out, kicked him, slammed him on the floor, punched him in the stomach or sent a bow to his jaw, Iverson was the first to get right back up and play every possession as if nothing happened. Iverson even had a story in which he was bowed in the mouth and he was gushing blood, but didn't open his mouth so the referees wouldn't see the blood so he could continue to play.
Ricky Rubio has the traits to have half the heart that Iverson had.
Ricky chases down loose balls and gets bowed all the time wrestling for and stealing the ball.
While Iverson had the look of a tough guy, Ricky Rubio's pretty boy demeanor off the court doesn't show on the court.
Steve Nash's Court Vision
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images
If you are open, Steve Nash will find you. It's inevitable that if you are not defending your man, Steve Nash will make you pay. It's also key that Nash can pass with both of his hands, a very underrated skill. Steve Nash can pass in the pick and roll, transition, under your legs or outlet pass.
He's a basketball throwing Peyton Manning.
Why Rubio has so much hype is that he possesses this same skill at the age of 20, and they don't emphasize point guard play as much overseas.
When he makes the jump to the NBA, he has the chances of being one of the great passers in the league as a rookie. No he won't score as much as Nash, but their court visions are nearly parallel.
Steve Nash doesn't possess great quickness or speed, but you can't leave his teammates open. He's one of the few players that can get 20 assists at will.
We won't call Ricky Rubio as good as any of the players on this list, but he certainly has the chance to be an NBA great if he works at it.
And now, if you havent watched any of the videos previously, please watch this last one. It's a video that captures every single trait in Rubio's game stated in this slideshow.
Thanks for reading!