The Franchise Tidbit: Minnesota what have you’ve been trying to do? Since the Kevin Garnett trade in 2006-07 the Wolves have averaged 19.5 wins. Inconsistent managerial decisions from the coaching, players, and franchise direction have plagued them since Garnett’s departure. Minnesota seem better off with Wally Szczerbiak back on the floor and Fred Hoiberg throwing up the shots. With the past aside lets focus on their future. The All-Star year of Kevin Love and his Old Spice commercials were positive for the organization image. Kevin Love’s stellar season was a key reason the Timberwolves were recognized by the Sports Media last year. However it seems David Kahn is finally putting a supporting cast around him. Trading for Michael Beasley and yes I said “for” the Heat’s former #2 pick was great move. The development of Wesley Johnson is turning out to be a solid pick on David Kahn’s behalf. The holes on the roster start with the congested front court with Love, Beasley, Darko, and the recently drafted Derrick Williams with the #2 pick and lack of Backcourt. The backcourt featuring Luke Ridnour, Sebastian Telfair, and European prodigy Ricky Rubio. The young lineup, new rookies, and a new coach will make for an intriguing year in Minnesota.
The fifth pick of the 2009 NBA draft has his flight booked and kicks ready for America. Five years ago he was raising the MVP hardware for throwing up 51 points, 24 boards, 12 assists, and 7 steals at a U-16 European game. Yeah those are AAU statistics on serious steroids if you ask me and I can assure he’ll not replicate that in the NBA. He was a youtube sensation at 14, cover of ESPN at 16, and was tagged Europe’s best point guard in 2010. However can he handle the immense scrutiny and media giants in America or will he falter like the other Europeans busts. The league and David Kahn have been anticipating his presence since the Timberwolves drafted the 6’4, shaggy-haired kid. So is Rubio going to exceed his expectations and succeed like Dirk or fall to the depth’s like teammate Darko?
Reasons To watch Rubio in 2011
For years this kid has been labeled the next “Pistol Pete” and thats a huge comparison. The younger generation is not acclimated to the legacy and role of the late Pete Maravich. Pete Maravich revolutionized the game and is an influencer of the NBA’s showman swagger seen today. The behind the back passes, no look passes, or his instructional “homework videos” for the youth are staples in todays game. He was a craftsmen when the game was dull, a basketball artist, a pure scorer, and an ambassador to the game. The Pistol shattered or either owned every collegian scoring record in his career. This hefty comparison allows the fans to anticipate the games next playmaker. Today’s point guard’s have lost the creativity the fans desire. On the court visionaries like Magic Johnson, a young Stephon Marbury, Jason Williams, Steve Nash, or a young Jason Kidd whom are fading in today’s game. Rubio’s presence is needed in the game to give fan’s a sports center “top ten” pass or “where the ball go dribbling?”. Even if the rookie disappoints statistically, we can still anticipate a play that redefines the games fundamentals like the late Pete Maravich.
Timberwolves point guard dilemma
Every GM and member of the Timberwolves organization remembers the 2009 draft for very peculiar reasons. The organization held four 1st round picks and drafted three-point guards with their first three picks. They drafted Rubio (5th pick), Johnny Flynn(6th pick), and Ty Lawson with the 18th pick. That year David Kahn had to assume he’d draft an all-star by drafting the entire point guard class. Ty Lawson was later traded to Denver where he’s flourished, thank you David Khan. Johnny Flynn seems destined to be a career backup or a bad team starter after his dismissal play for the T-Wolves. The responsibilities seem to be Rubio’s at the moment pending on any offseason moves. The current competition is Luke Ridnour but is Luke Ridnour really competition? That’s like saying Luke Walton was the glue to the Laker’s recent Championship teams. After the league settles this lockout be prepared to see the young Rubio calling the play sets.
Blake Griffin Effect
Quite frankly Blake Griffin’s emergence in this league was unexpected. Blake was in complete beast-mode against every defender whether it be rookie or vet which led to question whether he was human. His team was still horrendous, however his play silenced the critics about his injury the previous year. Will Ricky Rubio benefit in ways Blake Griffin did, by not playing right after being drafted. Ricky lucked out experiencing no serious injuries and his participation in the European leagues can only benefit. Blake’s statistics were All-Star worthy, however we often found ourselves comparing them with the rookies. It was like comparing a Gio and Bentley, unethical while robbing you of time considering it. The last couple of years playing overseas allowed him to center in on his weaknesses (defense, athleticism). Age and wisdom seem to correlate from what I’ve heard, so we assume he’s matured from his day’s of doing everything in Europe. His tendency to being a triple-double stat stuffer seem out of reach unless you’re the “Big O.” However we all thought Blake would realize he couldn’t dominant like he did in college, boy did we mess that up.
Past NBA player Comparison: Jason Kidd
Their knack for doing everything and their similar height leads me to this comparison. Jason Kidd’s duty is simple, win (demonstrated in New Jersey & Dallas round 2) regardless of what his role is on the team. I believe Rickey Rubio brings the same traits to the table seen throughout his development in Spain, Olympics, and FIBA. Neither been labeled legitimate scoring threats or high percentage shooters. Both lottery picks, playmakers, and defensive liabilities. So I don’t believe Rubio will be as successful in his rookie year as J-Kidd who won the Rookie of the year with Grant Hill. I do wish Rubio will pan out and provide us with J-Kidd worthy highlights.