Top NBA Players: #42 Ricky Rubio

Mar. 3, 2012; Portland, OR, USA; Minnesota Timberwolves point guard Ricky Rubio (9) drives to the basket on Portland Trail Blazers power forward LaMarcus Aldridge (12) during the third quarter of the game at the Rose Garden. The Timberwolves won the game 122-110. Mandatory Credit: Steve Dykes-US PRESSWIRE

Ricky Rubio
Resume: 10.6 points, 4.2 rebounds, 8.2 assists (6th in league), 2.2 steals, 34.2 minutes, 36% FG, 34% 3PT, and 80% FT… Team record in games played: 21-20 (5-20 without)… 1st Team All-Rookie

I wouldn’t be one bit surprised if most people think that I have Ricky Rubio rated too high. After all, we are talking about a 2nd year point guard who can’t shoot and tore his ACL last year. Basically, I placed Rubio at 42nd based on a very small sample size (only 41 games) and something that statistics can’t totally get a grasp of.

You have to look at Ricky Rubio a little differently than most players. We’re talking about a guy who was being compared to Pete Maravich at the tender age of 16 years old. He looked like he should’ve been touring with the Jonas Brothers, not making his professional basketball debut in Spain and becoming one of the most heralded international prospects ever in the process. Even though Rubio had a passing gene engraved in his DNA that so few have ever had and was becoming a YouTube sensation because of it, there were concerns about how Rubio could handle a much faster and athletic pace in the NBA. It was believed he his smaller stature and lack of a jump shot would be a major downfall once he made the leap to the next level. Two years after being drafted, Rubio finally made his debut for Minnesota. He then proceeded to make everyone forget about the doubts they once had.

Rubio is far from being an effective scorer, and his jump shot isn’t exactly a mirror image of Ray Allen’s beautiful jumper. Of the 50 players on the list, nobody came close to shooting as low of a percentage as Rubio and no one scored fewer points per game either. Does it really matter? Most would argue yes, but I say no. A point guard isn’t necessarily supposed to be an elite scorer. Remember when Jason Kidd shot under 40% in a season where he finished 2nd in the MVP voting? He was basically the consensus choice for best point guard alive. I don’t sweat over Rubio’s lack of scoring and scoring ability. The biggest shot Rubio had to take this year, he made. A cold blooded corner 3 against the Clippers to tie the game with 20 seconds left, after he had missed his first ten shots of the game. I’ll take a 36% shooter if he makes them when it counts, and also if he’s a once in a generation passing talent.

That is the biggest reason why Rubio is placed so high on this list. If you watched a good portion of Timberwolves games this year, two things stood out: Kevin Love being absolutely awesome and Ricky Rubio’s unbelievable passing instincts. He just sees the game differently than 99% of the world does, and it rubs off on everyone on his team. His unselfishness is infectious. It’s like when Steve Blake got the Chicken Pox and everyone was worried about him infecting the entire Lakers roster before the playoffs started, which by the way would’ve been one of the funniest subplots in NBA history. That would’ve been a significantly worse turnout than how the Timberwolves were infected by Ricky Rubio’s Passing-is-so-much-fun Pox. He turned a team with one star, two notable gunners (Michael Beasley and Wayne Ellington) and a bunch of other mediocre players into a collection of guys who look like they legitimately enjoy playing with one another. Rubio helped turn Kevin Love into a top 10 player in the league. He was a big reason why Nikola Pekovic nearly made the toughest cuts list. Additionally, his ACL tear officially ended the Timberwolves playoff hopes, which doubled as the end of the idea that we could have an incredibly fun Timberwolves/Thunder first round series in the playoffs. Minnesota had no shot after Rubio went down. Just look at their win-loss record above with Rubio compared to what they did without Rubio. I suppose that is a good enough measure of a player’s value.