Saturday, January 14, 2012

Ricky Rubio Proves He Is NBA Ready

(AP Photo/Bill Haber)
In just 11 games this season, Rubio has already made an immediate impact on his team.

When the young Spanish superstar announced he would join the Timberwolves, two years after being drafted fifth overall, the Timberwolves knew they were getting a great player, but many others were unsure.

He's been compared to Jose Calderon, Steve Nash, and Pete Maravich. His coaches even call him "La Pistola" taking Maravich's nickname, Pistol Pete, and translating it to Spanish. Clearly, Rubio has a lot to live up to.

Rubio earned some spotlight early on in his career, leading the 16-U Spanish National Team to the FIBA Championships in 2006. In the tournament, Rubio posted two triple-doubles, and even a quadruple-double. He capped the tournament off by scoring 51 points, grabbing 24 rebounds, and dishing out twelve assists 12  in a win against Russia.

He then began his professional career by playing for Joventut Badalona, where he excelled in his first four years. It was during his last season with Joventut Badalona, when he got drafted by the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Rather than going over to America right away though, Rubio signed to play with Barcelona. This seemed to be a bad decision by Rubio, his stats worsened, and he even lost his starting position because of his bad play.

That's why when Rubio came over to America, many were unsure if he'd be a star or a bust. Despite his incredible international play, and his spectacular highlight clips, NBA experts and analysts were unsure if he could play his Euro- uptempo style in the NBA.

So far, Rubio has been fantastic for the Timberwolves. He is averaging a near double double, with 10 points and eight assists per game. His assist per 48 minutes ranks third in the NBA behind Steve Nash and Rajon Rondo. Experts were worried about Rubio's shooting, but so far the Spanish Sensation is shooting close to 50% from the field,

Rubio already has four double-doubles this season, and was an assist short of getting his fifth last night.

After ten regular season games, Rubio finally got his first start in the NBA last night. He didn't disappoint, scoring 12 points, dishing out nine assists, and grabbing six boards. He was perfect from the free-throw line and along with Kevin Love, he gave the Timberwolves their fourth win of the season.

Stats aside though, Rubio has transformed this Timberwolves team. Every assist he creates is unique and could find itself on ESPN's Top 10 plays. His court vision is one of a kind, and his hustle points can't be measured. He makes every single player on the court better, whether he is setting them up for a score, or helping them out on defense.

Through the first ten games, Rubio has come off the bench late in the first quarter, but then plays the almost the full second and fourth quarters. When he is on the court, the Timberwolves outscore their opponents by 52 points. His plus/minus ratio is the best on the team. When starting point guard Luke Ridnour is on the court, the team is outscored by 48 points, which is the second worst plus/minus for Minnesota

Many Timberwolves fans are criticizing coach Rick Adelman for not starting Rubio, but the legendary coach knows what he is doing. After all, Rubio is only a rookie.

Currently, Rubio ranks only behind top pick Kyrie Irving on's Rookie Ladder. Something tells me tough, that Rubio could pass Irving by the time the season is over. Irving is averaging 17 points and five assists per game, but what makes Rubio so special, is that he makes every player on the court better. His relationship with his teammates on the court is very special, often smiling and exchanging high-fives with them.

Rubio has the third highest all-star votes for West guards, trailing only Chris Paul and Kobe Bryant.

Rubio definitely hasn't been a bust so far. His exciting style and play is transforming the Timberwolves offense. If Minnesota pays attention to his plus/minus, maybe Rubio will get more starts, and the T-Wolves will get more wins.

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