The Minnesota Timberwolves have something in Ricky Rubio that most teams can only dream of—a true point guard.
Excluding a handful of players (Chris Paul, Steve Nash, Jason Kidd), there are only so many point guards these days that would rather dish it to a teammate than get credit for the basket themselves.
Sure, there are more talented players than Rubio, without a doubt, but it's the nature of a natural point guard that makes Ricky an elite player.
Opinions on Rubio have varied, and people continue to have different perspectives on the kid. At this point, Rubio's reputation is like Kobe's—you either love him or you hate him. You either think Rubio's going to be the next All-Star MVP and Skills Challenge Winner, or you think he'll have the same fate as his teammates Darko Milicic and Sebastian Telfair.
Whenever discussing Rubio, there will always be a group of people criticizing him on his lack of athleticism, his lackluster jump shot and how he isn't very mentally prepared as a player going into the NBA.
On the other hand, there are fans like me who support Rubio and believe he can truly be something special one day. I guess Chris Paul is with me on that, as he explains to ESPN the Magazine:
"It's crazy what he's already done. I am 23 and I think in the things I've done, but he is only 17, it's crazy! He has already been in the Olympics. I've played 3 years in college and 3 years in the NBA before going to the Olympics. He will come to the NBA to steal my job."
But this, of course, was a statement made in 2008, and we know opinions on someone can change very quickly (as Kim Kardashian recently showed us). Chris Paul probably has a different view on Rubio now, seeing how he has failed to perform over and over, and how after he decided to head back to Spain. Ricky averaged a mere 6.5 PPG and 3.6 APG this past year in the Euroleague, which drew much doubt from fans.
Deron Williams recently played his first Euroleague game and had a stat line of seven points, seven assists,and six turnovers, on 3-13 shooting. Of course, it can be argued that Williams' wrist was holding him back, but the European style of play is generally slower than the NBA's, inhibiting big numbers. Ricky Rubio didn't have superstar numbers in Europe, but that doesn't mean that he won't come into the NBA and average over 10 assists a game. With teammates like Michael Beasley and Kevin Love, Rubio's job becomes much easier (not to mention fellow rookie Derrick Williams).
As for his athleticism, Rubio just may never be at the same level as some of his fellow teammates or opponents in the NBA.
To me, this is such a minor detail it doesn't even matter. Why does Rubio need "blow by quickness" if he can spot an opening to feed a teammate that nobody else on the court can see?
I've been watching Steve Nash ever since the day I got interested in basketball, and I have yet to see him blow by a defender. Why? Because that's an offensive trait Nash doesn't need, and neither does Rubio.
In the long run, Rubio's shortcomings don't matter because he has other attributes to override it.
Does he have enough experience? Let's see: Rubio's been playing in the Euroleague since he was 13 years old, meaning he hit professional threes before we hit puberty.This kid has grown around the game, learned, and applied it to his game.
Unlike some players, who break down under the pressure, Rubio will excel, as he has been playing professionally for quite a while. There is no doubt that Rubio has enough experience to do well in the NBA.
Defensively, Rubio will struggle, due to his lack of athleticism, but if he works hard enough, there will come a day when he turns into a solid defender. The way I see it, Rubio will never be a player that you would count on to shut a player down, but will definitely be somebody that can contain his opponent.
Maybe Chris Paul's right. Maybe Rubio will actually come into the NBA by storm, and "steal" Chris Paul's job. Or Steve Nash's. Nobody knows the limit for Rubio's potential, but all I'm saying is: if you're a Timberwolves fan, start getting excited.
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