By the time he reached his third season in the NBA, many people expected Minnesota Timberwolves point guard Ricky Rubio to be on the cusp of becoming a superstar in this league. However, 31 games into his third year, Rubio is far from the level of his teammate, Kevin Love, who is the star of this team.
For the year, the Spanish point guard is averaging 8.7 points, 8.2 assists, 4.6 rebounds and 2.8 steals in 32.1 minutes per game while also turning the ball over just 2.8 times per contest. However, the real concern with Rubio arises from his inefficiency when it comes to scoring. For the year, he’s shooting just 34.5 percent from the floor and only 33.9 percent from three.
Rubio is continually grilled nowadays for his lack of shooting ability. His jump shot is often flat and lacks any semblance of what you’d call arch. Unsurprisingly with the way his shot simply looks, Rubio is shooting just 26.6 percent on jump shots this season, which the point guard has taken 128 on the year.
While acknowledging that his jumper looks terrible and needs a lot of work to be fixed, you can’t dismiss Rubio solely because of his bad jumper. The way he runs and facilitates this Wolves offense is too valuable of a commodity for that to happen.
According to NBA.com’s player tracking data, Rubio ranks third in the NBA in terms of points created by assists per 48 minutes so far this season, with his assists accounting for 28.1 points per 48 minutes. Likewise, Rubio also contributes 2.1 secondary assists (a pass that leads to an assist) per game, which is the second-most in the league.
Rubio’s ability to penetrate with his ball-handling allows him to hit guys in the post and to kick out to shooters, which is huge in a Rick Adelman system. When you throw in the fact that he’s the Wolves’ best perimeter defender and continues to grow in that area, he’s obviously having a big effect on Minnesota this year.
If you want to pick a true weakness in Rubio’s game it’s the fact that he’s not finishing at the rim well. For the year, Rubio is shooting just 40.9 percent from the floor inside of five feet. That’s a big deal for a guard that plays in the style of Rubio because he’s so often trying to penetrate that him getting to and finishing at the rim is a valuable skill. However, it’s a skill that he hasn’t exactly displayed and that could be worrisome if it doesn’t sort itself out.
Is there really any situation where you are looking to get Rubio a jumper in this Wolves offense? No. However, his lack of ability when it comes to shooting the ball shouldn’t create the negative air around him that it sometimes does. Though it might not be blatantly obvious when you first look, Rubio brings real life to Minnesota.