Blog Entry

The biggest loser from Eurobasket? Ricky Rubio

Posted on: September 19, 2011 1:06 pm
Edited on: September 19, 2011 9:41 pm
Posted by Royce Young

Eurobasket 2011 was about a whole lot more than just a player. It was about a loaded Spain team coming together with an incredibly talented roster to win gold and automatically qualify for the 2012 Olympics. And in the meantime, catch the full, undivided attention of Team USA.

But as has been the case for the past four years or so, we've all remained intrigued with one player that happens to look like Justin Bieber's Spanish doppelganger. Eurobasket provided us the opportunity to take a good, long look at Ricky Rubio, who remember, will actually play for the Timberwolves this season.

How did he do? Well, judging by his numbers, bad. Very bad. Here are the averages he had during the tournament: 1.5 points, 2.1 assists and 2.5 rebounds per game. With that, he just 23.3 percent from the field, was just 1-for-15 from 3 and made only a single free throw. His best game? Five points, seven rebounds and four assists against Macedonia. And before you ask, he saw a solid amount of playing time in the tournament -- 15.5 minutes per game. (He averaged 1.5 steals per game and was pretty active in passing lanes, which was good.)

Now of course you have to realize where Rubio fit in with a loaded Spain team. The offense basically revolved around the Gasol brothers in the post while Juan Carlos Navarro provided a perimeter spark with his shooting and driving. Rubio's job was pretty much to dump the ball inside and then get out of the way. It's most certainly not the way he'll be used in Minnesota in Rick Adelman's system. And for the billionth time, he's just 20 years old.

Still. Still. It's just hard to ignore the latest -- and probably brightest -- red flag in de-hyping Ricky Rubio. Not just because of the numbers, but because we haven't really seen a player that's going to light up defenses with crazy court vision and wondrous offensive control since the 2008 Olympics. And that was just in short three-minute bursts. It's a question of if Rubio can really sustain himself as an NBA starting point guard that doesn't just set up Kevin Love and Derrick Williams, but also defends Derrick Rose, Russell Westbrook and Chris Paul. At this point, can you picture that happening?

After another buzzkill performance, I have to ask: What exactly is there to be all that excited about? What are we supposed to be seeing that's to make us think this guy will tear up the NBA? I get that he had a few nice defensive games and can steal a few passes, but is that really what the apparent "savior" of Minnesota basketball is supposed to possess? Some quick hands?

He's young, yes. He's still got a lot of time to grow and learn. He could very well be an excellent point guard that takes a little Steve Nash flair and a little Rajon Rondo court vision and bottles it into a playmaking whiz. It could certainly happen. But at what point are we supposed to see something to make us think it could happen?

The best thing that could ever happen to Rubio's NBA career just did though and that's Adelman being hired to coach the Wolves. He's an offensive genius that understands and teaches spacing and movement better than anyone. Rubio will be at least a solid point man just by default of the offense and the players around him. Derrick Williams will be good. Kevin Love is a star. And wingers like Wesley Johnson, Michael Beasley and Martell Webster give him a healthy number of options to pass to.

But that's assuming Rubio understands how to assert himself within an offense. It's not just Eurobasket. His European professional seasons haven't been anything impressive either. Last season for Regal Barcelona, he averaged 6.5 points (on 39 percent shooting), went 11-49 from 3 (22 percent) and in the place he's supposed to excel, he averaged just 3.5 assists per game. And that was maybe his best season yet in Europe.

Again, I'm not giving up on Ricky Rubio. I want him to be good. With Adelman coaching, the Timberwolves just went to a lock for "League Pass Favorite" with a lot of NBA junkies. We know Rubio can pass. We know he has a gift in seeing the floor and setting up teammates like he's Xavi, the great Barcelona midfielder. He's got a unique set of skills in him. He's a gifted, talented player and what he can do should work better in the NBA than it has in Europe. But will it ever translate into anything more than a slick YouTube highlight or two? Isn't it getting to hard to ignore red flag after red flag with Eurobasket being the latest?

If anything, Eurobasket's just increased the pressure on Rubio. He's got people like me now staring him down and expecting something good in a very short time. Instead of giving a 20-year-old a little breathing room and time to grow, we're all going to expect five assists a game with one being a dazzling no-look oop every game. We're going to expect Rubio make an impact immediately, otherwise it'll be too easy to say, "I knew it! Eurobasket foretold the story!"

What Rubio is facing is maybe the unprecedented situation of being labeled a bust before he even plays a game in the NBA. Not an easy world to be walking into. Thing is, it's not like it's unfair or undeserved. He hasn't done anything to convince someone otherwise.

Rubio played his role for Spain in Eurobasket. Didn't complain, didn't break character, didn't try and do too much just because a lot of eyes were on him. And to his credit, he never has. Even with the pressure of undeniable hype, Rubio has always played his game, no matter how meager it might look in the statsheet. But all that means is that he's got more people expecting him to fail, more people ready to point and laugh at David Kahn. I mean, let's be honest: Kahn's job is riding entirely on the shoulders of Rubio right now. Kahn was in attendance at Eurobasket to watch his young passing prodigy. And you know he probably felt a bit squirmy when Rubio clanged around open 15-footer.

He could very easily be Rajon Rondo. A playmaker that's content with setting up teammates in creative ways while sacrificing any sort of good scoring game. But he could also very easily be a poor man's Jose Calderon. One that can't shoot, doesn't pile up assists and doesn't even possess that same kind of annoying intensity. And that's definitely not what you want the supposed savior of your franchise to be.

Since: Nov 12, 2006
Posted on: September 20, 2011 8:29 pm

The biggest loser from Eurobasket? Ricky Rubio

Its a mistake to use a guy's stats or standing on his Euro team as evidence he can't play.  I'm no fan of Brandon Jennings, but he has a place in the league, and he did squat in Italy.  Averaged less than 20 minutes a game, shot about 20% from three and less than 40% from the field overall.  As I said, I don't care for Jennings' game, but if you were only to look at the numbers from overseas and ignore the athleticism that led to Milwaukee drafting him, you'd never expect him to be lighting up the Lakers a week or two into his career

Since: Nov 12, 2006
Posted on: September 20, 2011 8:02 pm

The biggest loser from Eurobasket? Ricky Rubio

Why are we reading a story about Ricky Rubio's Eurobasket performance from a guy who apparently didn't watch him play?

Since: Dec 23, 2006
Posted on: September 20, 2011 5:58 pm

The biggest loser from Eurobasket? Ricky Rubio

I watched most of the games Spain played and Ricky Rubio did not look great, but neither he nor Jose Calderon had a signifciant role to play.  Juan Carlos Navarro is not just a small 2-guard.  He runs Spain's offense about as often as the point guards do.  I still think he could have been a pretty fair NBA player but the fact is he is so much more than that in his home country that it would have been pointless for him to stick around after his one-year gig with the Grizzlies.

The Gasol brothers were obviously going to get their shots.  And the article really does not even mention Rudy Fernandez, who is also a pretty high utilization player for Spain.

I am willing to give Ricky a pass on his performance in Lithuania, but I do have one other point guard question out of that tournament.

Here it is:  Why on earth doesn't someone in the NBA give Bo McCalebb a shot?  Next to Tony Parker, IMO, the Brother from Macedonia was the top point guard in the tournament (which means he was better than at least three NBA point guards -- Calderon, Rubio and Goran Dragic -- and one other NBA point guard in the wings in Pat Calathes, as well)      

Since: Jun 28, 2011
Posted on: September 20, 2011 3:57 pm

The biggest loser from Eurobasket? Ricky Rubio

He can PASS but not shoot and that will be the death of his game in the NBA, he will not be able to keep defenses honest like a Steve Nash because his jumpshot is garbage.  Plus, he is not a good defender, he will be an average player at best at the next level.  Kahn screwed up that draft by taking Rubio and Flynn too high. 

Since: Dec 12, 2010
Posted on: September 20, 2011 2:39 pm

Two Years

The Ricky Rubio Era and David Kahn's tenure with the Wolves have just about two years to pan out.  Then the jury will be back in and doubt will cast no shadow. Rick Adelman will take over Kahn's duties and Ricky Rubio will join Ndudi Ebi, Rashas McCants, JR Rider, and others in the Timberwolves' legendary draft history.

Kahn can still win this thing.  Hey, shoot me, I'm a fan.

Since: Sep 17, 2007
Posted on: September 20, 2011 12:48 pm

The biggest loser from Eurobasket? Ricky Rubio

He is terrible.  Flashy but can't shoot.  Passes are not accurate.  He is a playground player.  Ricky Rubio will be in the NBA for 2 or three season and then fade away to nothing.  Go look at his Spanish league stats last season.  He can't start on that team.  How does he start on an NBA team even if it is the Wolves.  Sorry Ricky Rubio is a waste of time and there are many other options at a much cheaper price.

Since: Sep 1, 2006
Posted on: September 20, 2011 10:04 am

The biggest loser from Eurobasket? Ricky Rubio

But he could also very easily be a poor man's . One that can't shoot, doesn't pile up assists and doesn't even possess that same kind of annoying intensity.

Jose Calderon is a career 49% shooter and last year he was 5th in assists/game behind 4 guys named Nash, Rondo, Williams and Paul.

I'm not trying to be a Raptors homer and say Calderon is the best PG ever, but if you're going to use the guy as a derogatory-style analogy for someone else, at least get your damn facts straight.

Or is that what you meant by "poor man's"? As in - "what I described is nothing like Jose Calderon, but I was too lazy to do any research, and they're both Spanish, soooooo...."

Since: Mar 17, 2009
Posted on: September 20, 2011 9:02 am

The biggest loser from Eurobasket? Ricky Rubio

This guy will do ok in the NBA, he is very skilled and poised, he played good against the USA team at only 18.

Since: Jul 17, 2008
Posted on: September 20, 2011 8:24 am

The biggest loser from Eurobasket? Ricky Rubio

If anyone thinks this guy is ready to play in the NBA you are retarded!  he does not have the skills or body to play, and the only reason his name keeps coming up is that the T-Wolves sucks and can use any press to make themselves and fans feel good.

Since: Nov 29, 2007
Posted on: September 20, 2011 6:58 am

The biggest loser from Eurobasket? Ricky Rubio

So what he is playing with the Timberwolves grabass. The NBA is not playing this year . GET USED TO IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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