Many Factors To Rubio’s Success
For two years the fans of the Minnesota Timberwolves have heard everything there is to hear about Ricky Rubio. They have struggled through another two seasons where the team won 15 games and 17 games respectively. Jonny Flynn, Ramon Sessions and Luke Ridnour have all had turns at the point guard position with uninspiring success, as the Timberwolves continued to try to find a way to get Rubio to come to the States.
Now, as it looks as if Rubio will in fact join the Minnesota Timberwolves for the 2011-12 season—if there is one—many people wonder if Rubio can possibly live up to his billing.
Whether it is fair or not, Rubio will come to Minnesota with great expectations from those who follow the team and around the NBA. Although his perceived stock has fallen in the past two years, he is still a valuable commodity and his game translates to the NBA well. The big factor for Rubio will be to find the confidence he has, seemingly, lost recently. If he’s able to do that, he will be able to have an impact on the Timberwolves next season.
But, what kind of impact can he have?
The Timberwolves already have athletes on the team who are willing and able to run with him. You can see the plan: Kevin Love rips down a rebound, throws one of his patented outlet passes to Rubio who brings it up the court quickly with Wes Johnson on one side and Michael Beasley on the other. Love trails the play, waiting for a kick-back three in transition, if that is the final option. In theory, there is something there to build around. You can see what the Timberwolves are hoping to build around, but how it all works out depends on how the players mesh once they are able to play together.
It also depends on coaching.
The triangle offense does not suit the skills the Ricky Rubio brings to the table and would also bring his weakness into focus much quicker. While he can still be effective in a half-court set at times, NBA defenses will sag off him, forcing him to shoot. Quite simply, Rubio needs a lot of work on his jumpshot. Until such time where he would make significant improvement in that department, it is best to give him the full court to operate, getting open shots for himself and finishing around the basket on a much more regular basis than would occur in a half court set.
No news currently seems to indicate that Kurt Rambis will return for his third season in Minnesota, but, in a sense, with conditions. The triangle offense has to go and he must come in ready to implement a plan more suited towards the players on his roster, not forcing his players into his system. While Rambis is not necessarily a control freak, he is a coach and man who will steadfastly hold onto his beliefs of what is right until proven otherwise. With what the Timberwolves are hoping Ricky Rubio will mean to their franchise, he is going to have to hand over a major amount of control and the decision-making on the court to his young point guard.
One of the oddities of Ricky Rubio is the fact that while he likes to play and can dominate a high-speed game offensively in the past, his foot speed on defense is quite suspect. The defensive scheme Rambis decides to implement on the new-look Rubio-led Timberwolves is going to be vital, as he is going to have to find ways to “hide” Rubio as he adjusts to the speed of the league. Rubio is used to being one of, if not the quickest players on the court, so going against point guards such as Rajon Rondo, Derrick Rose and Tony Parker will be a huge adjustment.
Ricky Rubio has a lot of things in his favor when he makes his makes his NBA debut with the Minnesota Timberwolves. Although the national media will pay attention and write articles on how his services would be better served elsewhere, Rubio is about to come to a situation where he will have great support. The fans in Minnesota are starving for a winner and have waited—relatively patiently—for Rubio’s arrival to see if the course of action David Kahn and Kurt Rambis set the team on two years ago will come to fruition. It is a fine line that Rubio will walk because he is not looked at as a savior, yet he is looked upon as the key to making sense out of the team’s direction in recent years.
With the NBA draft quickly approaching, the Timberwolves are looking to add a few more pieces around Rubio. With many reports suggesting the team is looking to trade the pick, another busy and interesting draft night should be around the corner for Timberwolves fans. There are still many things to be done to turn the fortunes of the team around, but one thing is for sure: whether it turns out to be a good thing or not, the Ricky Rubio era is soon to begin in Minnesota.