It isn’t much of a stretch to call Ricky Rubio one of the best young point guards in the NBA. He dazzles crowds nightly with his tremendous court vision and his ability to get into the passing lanes. He’s far from the total package, though, as his shooting is historically poor and his overall defense resembles a matador more than an NBA starter.
RICKY RUBIO IS GOOD
We’ll get to Rubio’s passing skills shortly. Another terrific aspect of Rubio’s game is his personality. The fact that he’s so selfless and about the team is something that can’t be quantified with a statistic, but wouldn’t you love to play with a player who routinely makes tweets like this?
Great week in LA with my bro @kevinlove working out hard.I tell u what.He’s in the best shape I’ve ever seen.He’s going 4 the MVP this year!
β Ricky Rubio (@rickyrubio9) June 28, 2013
Players like that are infectious. Instead of taking a bad shot, they look to make the extra pass to get a better look. Players work harder for each other in the practice, in the weight room and during every game.
Speaking of passing, Rubio’s calling card is his ability to put his teammates in position to succeed. Like Steve Nash, Rubio is able to take otherwise average players and make them look much better than they are. In just his second year in the NBA, Rubio finished No. 10 in the NBA in assists per game (7.3) and No. 6 in assist percentage (38.8). From February 4th on, Rubio upped his assists to 8.3 per game and his assist percentage to 40.8.
RICKY RUBIO IS BAD
It wouldn’t be fair to call Rubio one-dimensional because of his stellar ability to come up with steals. He led the NBA in steal percentage (4.2) in 2012-13, which ended Chris Paul‘s two-year run. Rubio was second in the NBA in steals per game (2.4) and ninth in total steals (137).
However, the positives end there.
Per 82games.com, Rubio allowed opposing point guards to put up an efficiency rating of 18.6. When Rubio moved over to the shooting guard spot, opposing players scored an efficiency rating of 22.0. Some of that can be attributed to schemes, but we can’t ignore the fact that the defense gave up 106.3 points per-100 possessions with Rubio on the court and 105.9 when he went to the bench.
Defensive statistics have to be taken with a grain of salt because good defensive teams make the individuals look better and vice-versa. Still, Synergy Sports ranked Rubio as No. 279 in the NBA in overall defense, allowing .9 points per possession.
Rubio brings some value in his length and his ability to get into the passing lanes, but otherwise his defense is bad.
RICKY RUBIO IS UGLY
Take a good look at that chart and try to find something to like. We already know that Rubio is a terrific passer but can you imagine how much better he could become if he’d just hit a jumper once in a while?
Let’s go a step further here. This isn’t John Wall we’re talking about. Wall hasn’t shown the ability to hit jumpers but at the very least, Wall (54.5 percent at the rim) can get to (and finish at) the rim.
Rubio’s 43.3 percent from inside five feet isn’t only bad, it’s downright ugly. Of players who took more than 100 shots from five feet or less in 2012-13, only Austin Rivers (43.1 percent) shot worse.
This means that teams can sag off of Rubio and they don’t have to worry much about Rubio beating them to the basket. The ability to pack the paint takes away a lot of the passing lanes that Rubio often takes advantage of.
In the event that Rubio turns the corner in the pick-and-roll situation, they aren’t rushing over to help because Rubio simply hasn’t shown that he can finish at the rim.
It’s a major problem for the Timberwolves because Rubio is going to get the opportunities. If he can’t start converting at a 50 percent clip or better, he (and the Wolves) are going to be on the outside of the playoffs looking in … again.