Ricky Rubio is a player that you hate to love. The kind of player who gets drafted fifth overall in the draft but decides to stay in Spain because he wants to “have a period of preparation to better take on the challenge of the NBA.” Not to mention he had a contract that was not cooperating.
Minnesota is antsy.
The decision for Rubio to finally head over to Minneapolis is equivalent to parents setting Christmas presents under the tree and not allowing their children to open them for two years.
There is enough vagueness surrounding foreign players as is. The added wait has made not only Minnesota, but the NBA curious as to what Rubio would turn out to be. If his intention was to slip into the league free of expectations, then he was sadly mistaken. The expectations have only risen.
After watching highlights of Rubio, you begin to see similarities of his style of play to others in the league. His flashy passing mimics Steve Nash’s. The way he can so perfectly send a bounce pass to a teammate penetrating the lane, or the way he lobs the ball to someone elevating for an alley-oop off a fast break. However, we’ve made the same mistake before.
Worst Case Scenario: Luke Ridnour (5.5 PPG, 2.4 APG in rookie season)
Kind of ironic, isn’t it? This isn’t to say that Luke Ridnour has had a bad career, it’s merely pointing out that if Luke Ridnour was the fifth pick in the draft. It would be considered a bit of a disappointment. Last year’s fifth pick overall was DeMarcus Cousins and the year before Rubio was Kevin Love.
Luke Ridnour originally played in Seattle. He was surrounded with two scorers (Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis), who helped him tally a good assist total every night. Rubio doesn’t necessarily have the firepower playing alongside him that Ridnour had, but Kevin Love and Michael Beasley are enough to make him look good on any given night.
Even if Rubio doesn’t fulfill Minnesota’s larger-than-life expectations for him, he still could bounce around from team to team, satisfying many roles based on each respective team. Ridnour has a career average of 9.7 PPG and 4.9 APG. I can’t see Rubio’s career average hovering around those in a less than ideal career.
Best Case Scenario: Andre Miller (14.4 PPG, 7.2 APG)
Many of you probably think I’m not giving Rubio a high enough ceiling, especially considering we know so little about him. However, don’t underrate what Andre Miller has done.
He led the league in assists in the 2001-2002 season and is considered one of the top-10 point guards of the decade. He has never had much of an outside shot, which is very comparable with Rubio. Driving and kicking is Rubio’s game, which is very similar to Miller’s style of play.
I’m sure Minnesota fans would be thrilled if Rubio has the type of career that Miller had. With any luck, David Kahn scores a point guard that can start on this team for years to come.
Realistically: Jose Calderon with better defense
They are the same height, play the same position, and originate from the same country. There is one big difference in their game. Rubio is quicker and has a longer wingspan, which allows him to play better defense. He has been touted as a tough defender over in Spain. It is unusual for European players to come into the NBA regarded as terrific defenders. Ricky Rubio is an unusual talent.
It would be a safe guess to assume that Ricky Rubio’s career will be very similar to Jose Calderon’s. Although Rubio won’t struggle with the one aspect of the game that makes Calderon expendable to Toronto, he has fantastic defensive awareness.
Ricky Rubio’s story has an ending. Even though it is impossible to estimate exactly how much damage he’ll do in the NBA, it’s interesting to try. This is my insight into the best and worst case scenarios for Ricky Rubio’s NBA career.