Feb 25, 2014; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Minnesota Timberwolves point guard Ricky Rubio (9) drives on Phoenix Suns shooting guard Goran Dragic (1) during the fist quarter at US Airways Center. Mandatory Credit: Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

Minnesota Timberwolves: Is Ricky Rubio Worth Committing To?


The Minnesota Timberwolves didn’t give Kevin Love a maximum deal because they wanted to keep that lone spot open for Ricky Rubio. Now in year three of the Rubio era, he’s as dazzling as ever when passing the ball and he’s shown a terrific knack for being disruptive defensively. What about his shooting, you ask? Yeah, let’s talk a bit about that.

As of February 25, Rubio is shooting a career-best….36.2 percent from the field. You know what, let’s just show you a table.

Season Age G MP FG% 3P% 2P% FT% TRB AST STL BLK TOV PF PTS
2011-12 21 41 34.2 .357 .340 .363 .803 4.2 8.2 2.2 0.2 3.2 2.4 10.6
2012-13 22 57 29.7 .360 .293 .374 .799 4.0 7.3 2.4 0.1 3.0 2.5 10.7
2013-14 23 56 31.4 .362 .348 .366 .816 4.6 8.5 2.5 0.2 2.7 2.5 8.9
Career 154 31.5 .360 .327 .368 .805 4.3 8.0 2.4 0.1 3.0 2.5 10.0
Provided by Basketball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 2/24/2014.

He’s so unusual in his shooting percentages that it’s boggling to the mind. He’s a serviceable 3-point shooter at 34.8 percent and he’s a better-than-average foul shooter at 81.6 percent. Yet for some reason, he’s not even good enough to qualify as “bad” from the rest of the court. He’s horrific. Hot garbage. Dumpster fire. Diaper Genie on the fritz. You get the point.

But, Rubio is very good about setting up his teammates and he is terrific at getting into the passing lanes. In fact, he’s No. 1 in the NBA this year in steal percentage (and was No. 1 in 2012-13 as well). However, even that “positive” stat is a bit noisy.

According to 82games.com, Rubio has been getting routinely torched when he’s not getting that steal. He allows opposing point guards a 20.1 efficiency rating. That’s not going to cut it. The problem, of course, is that Rubio is so good for the rest of the offense, that we have to somewhat ignore those stats. That’s where the real problems set in when deciding whether to commit long-term to Ricky.

Rubio’s on/off court splits are extremely in his favor. When he’s on the court, the Wolves are a plus-8.0 in net points per-48 minutes. When he sits, they are a minus-3.4. That’s a net of 11.4! Only Love’s ridiculous net of plus-17.0 is better. So again, can we ignore the obvious major red flags in lieu of the way Ricky affects the team in other ways?

He’s not Russell Westbrook, Damian Lillard or Stephen Curry. He’s not going to be able to create offense for himself. When Love is in trouble or on the bench, Rubio can’t step up and carry the team. That’s the main sticking issue for me. The Wolves can commit to Ricky as a second or third fiddle. If he has a team with tremendous offensive potential around him, he’s worth every penny of whatever extension he might sign.

Then again, if Love walks, there’s no way the Wolves should turn the reigns over to Rubio by giving him a contract that befits a superstar. Rubio makes superstars, but he isn’t one. Hopefully the Wolves have figured that out by now and pay him accordingly.



Tags: Minnesota Timberwolves