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It’s one game, but Ricky Rubio sure looked good in debut

Dec 27, 2011, 3:17 PM EDT

Ricky Rubio Getty Images

When I saw the Timberwolves schedule my first thought was “welcome to the NBA Ricky Rubio, we’d like you to meet Russell Westbrook.” Tough way to debut.

But Rubio was not fazed in the least, he looked good in his first NBA game. Very good.

The numbers are modest — six points, six assists, five rebounds and no turnovers in 26 minutes — but that was more about the Timberwolves keeping the reins on him early. When he was in he was controlling the game for the Timberwolves in a mature way.

Rubio just has an amazing court sense that few point guards ever have. We knew he could pass, but he uses his feel for the game to control the pace, space the floor properly and create shots for others. Check out his first assist to see what I’m talking about.

And for one night at least he did all the things critics said he couldn’t. He was 2-of-2 on midrange jumpers (but missed his one attempt from three). He didn’t play recklessly and turn the over. Some people thought he couldn’t defend, although if you watched him internationally that didn’t seem a big issue.

Here is what Zach Harper — who blogs the Wolves — had to say about Rubio’s play.

His passing is some Third Kind, Richard Dreyfuss in a pick-up truck type of stuff. It’s not that they’re flashy. It’s that they’re flashy with a purpose. Some people throw a behind the back pass because it makes them look good. Rubio’s threads were to make the team look good….

Rubio turned Westbrook into an iso player, and it briefly took the Thunder out of their sets. With 3:30 left in the game and the Thunder up one, Westbrook drove the right side of the lane against Rubio. Despite being presumed to be too slow to stay with guys like Westbrook, Wall, and Rose, Ricky slid his feet, stayed in front of Russ and sold a charge to the ref for the turnover.

Certainly Westbrook played like an All-Star. He lost Rubio on some back door cuts and on one play in transition just physically overpowered the Spaniard. Oklahoma City won the game because they are the better team.

But Rubio is going to be good in the NBA. Likely very good. And that may come along sooner rather than later. Combine that with Kevin Love and Derrick Williams and you can see a real future for Minnesota. For now, they are going to be fun to watch.

  1. hgulkkcaj - Dec 27, 2011 at 3:40 PM

    “He was 2-of-2 on midrange jumpers (but missed his one attempt from three).”

    For the record, that “missed 3 pointer” was a 3/4 court shot at the buzzer. The kid controlled the game when he was on the floor. It was unbelievable how different the pace of the game is when Rubio is in. He is so creative with his floor spacing, setting up passing angles, and his court vision. He was as-advertised and more last night against a really good OKC team.

  2. thatboi901 - Dec 27, 2011 at 4:00 PM

    I’ll admit it. I was about him….

  3. thatboi901 - Dec 27, 2011 at 4:01 PM

    I’ll admit it. I was wrong about him….

  4. cowboychris5xchamps - Dec 27, 2011 at 4:40 PM

    For the sake of the NBA I hope this kid pans out, from what I’ve seen he has some pretty sick skills, he may want to gain about 20 pounds or so because we play big boy basketball here in the states! With that being said the T- Wolves and their loyal fans deserve something to be excited about, ever since KG left they’ve been in the tank kinda like our economy, thanks a lot W.

  5. njsteeler - Dec 27, 2011 at 4:45 PM

    I wasn’t. From the clips I saw on youtube, I thought that this kid was going to be a player. A true PG that takes pleasure in getting the ball to his teammates, instead of wanting to shoot it 30 times a game. Take note OKC, and Russell Westbrook. Don’t get me wrong. Westbrook can go, but I don’t want my PG jacking it up 30 times a game. Causes the offense to become stagnant, and takes the ball away from players like Durant.

    • thatboi901 - Dec 27, 2011 at 5:47 PM

      Scouting players on youtube? Genius, wonder why every GM doesn’t do that. They are called highlights for a reason.

      • slopmcflop - Dec 27, 2011 at 5:53 PM

        Uh yeah, players going to college don’t necessarily send in their “worst of” tapes. Nothing wrong with figuring out the ceiling or potential of a player based off their highlights. If they had a “highlight” film that wasn’t worth watching, and was pure crap, why would you even bother to check out more? And there have been GMs that have openly admitted to first catching wind of a player due to their youtube highlights. No citation, but I’m from the internet, you can trust me.

      • njsteeler - Dec 27, 2011 at 6:52 PM

        Yo, thatgirl901 who said anything about scouting players on youtube? The fact that you can’t spell tells me a lot about you. Anyway, like most people who follow sports in this day, and age, I heard the hype and went to youtube to take a look. Not like he was playing at Duke or something, and what I saw I liked. Maybe I should have added that I also liked what I saw of him in the Olympics. The kid played like he belonged on the floor with the NBA’s best. And I do think that tape (highlight or otherwise) is used to scout players. Next time think before you try to type ok thatgirl901?

  6. cosmicatomic - Dec 27, 2011 at 4:50 PM

    Stats don’t tell the whole story on Rubio. And they probably never did in Spain, which is why people were foolish for BLINDLY criticizing Rubio based on seemingly unimpressive stats.

    Rubio controlled the tempo similar whenever he entered the game (a la Rondo) and frequently found the perfect open shooters/cutters. He drew ooh’s and ahh’s on numerous occasions by finding the open guy that NOBODY knew he could see let alone find with a perfect pass.

    He even hit a couple of clutch mid range J’s near the end of the game despite not looking for his shot the majority of the time.

  7. beagle11 - Dec 27, 2011 at 5:29 PM

    Lets not forget about the hyperbole bestowed upon Sactowns Jason Williams during his rookie year. Its one game, he made some nice passes. Lets see if he can lead a true winner.

  8. Justin - Dec 27, 2011 at 5:41 PM

    They certainly were and will be fun to watch. Now if only we can get Beasley to not shoot almost 2 times more than any other player on our team and we might win.

    For real though, Minnesota is a good 3 point shooting team and they won’t go 3 for 22 every night.

  9. adiddie - Dec 27, 2011 at 6:41 PM


    • greatminnesotasportsmind - Dec 28, 2011 at 12:31 AM

      Doh Kay….ialto

  10. dysraw1 - Dec 27, 2011 at 6:48 PM

    this guy could take the r.o.y award away from my man shump

  11. captyayo - Dec 27, 2011 at 9:35 PM

    I don’t see why the writer made sure to point out that Rubio missed his only three point attempt. I guess everyone make 3/4 court shots as time expired.

  12. vikesandravens78 - Dec 28, 2011 at 12:21 AM


  13. nbascreed - Dec 28, 2011 at 7:22 PM

    So if we extrapolate NBA awesomeness off Game 1, what do we extrapolate about Game 2? The act of any favorable knee jerk reactions with Rubio is grounded more in wishful thinking than reality. I think we need at least 15 games to determine whether or not he can play pg in this league. Flashy passes are nice and get the crowd excited but they don’t sustain a team. For the second time in TWO games the defenders have went underneath every set screen and roll involving R2. This is a problem.

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