Ricky Rubio Adjusting Well to the NBA
Now four games into his rookie NBA season, Ricky Rubio is adjusting well to life far away from home in the NBA. He has already been embraced by Timberwolves fans, creating a new home in Minnesota quickly.
“Good,” Rubio told HOOPSWORLD, referring to the Timberwolves’ play in the early season. “I mean, except we didn’t win any game. We played good, but we are two or three possessions away to win one of those games. I feel good, but something is missing because we need to win. All of us have to take that step and try to win.”
Very quickly into his career, Rubio has been able to show he belongs in the NBA. While his new Timberwolves teammates were able to see his talents during training camp, Rubio is now also garnering respect for his talents around the league. With each game he plays, he is more accepted and the praise continues to grow.
“To be on an NBA team is something a lot of people take for granted,” Dallas Mavericks guard Delonte West told HOOPSWORLD. “He’s here for a reason, just like everybody else. What we’ve seen, watching him play overseas or in the short time he’s been in the NBA, the sky’s the limit for a guy like last. He’s just adjusting to the NBA speed and the style of play over here, but he has certain things you just can’t teach that jumps out at you on film. First of all, his size as a point guard and he’s only going to get bigger and his vision is probably up there with some of the greats that we’ve seen like Steve Nash or Bob Cousy.”
While the Timberwolves aren’t making any excuses, they believe they are better than their early 1-3 record. Each of the games have been close, they nearly defeated the Miami HEAT and garnered their first win Sunday night against the defending champion Dallas Mavericks. The win/loss record is the only focus, yet there is a different buzz around the team this season and most of that is due to Rubio’s presence.
“It’s fun,” Wayne Ellington told HOOPSWORLD. “He’s one of those guys that everybody loves to play with. He’s a pass-first guy, looking for the open guy and looking to make plays. He’s a fun guy to be out there with and he finds you. He finds you for sure. It’s getting there for sure. I think the Miami game was just a glimpse of what he can do and what he’s going to be. He’s still a very young player, so as the season goes on he’s only going to get better and better.”
While he continues to get his feet wet in the NBA, Rubio already feels comfortable in the NBA. However, he also knows he hasn’t accomplished anything yet. He is always looking for ways to improve his own game, but it is not to receive individual accolades. Ricky Rubio wants to win.
“Of course you can learn all things on the court and I did in the last few games,” said Rubio. “We have to keep doing that. We are a young team who has to learn and we have to know that we have to win. That’s all we want.”
It’s not as if Rubio has to figure the NBA out on his own, as the Timberwolves revamped their coaching staff to help put him in positions to succeed. He also has fine veterans to help in his transition, those who know how to be professional, both on and off the court.
“They’ve got a great coaching staff, great guards in JJ Barea and Luke Ridnour to learn from and if he keeps putting that hard work in, he’s going to be amazing in a few years,” said West. “You just have to be patient with him.”
However, Rubio himself is not patient. He wants to play the game of basketball to the level he expects of himself and he wants his team to win. While fans and media may focus on how Rubio goes about playing with flash to his substance, he is more concerned with the end result of his play.
“As a team, we have a lot of turnovers, so they have a lot of easy baskets in fast break,” said Rubio. “We have to avoid that because we have to try to make them know that making a basket is going to be hard. We’re going to try to do that. Myself, I try to pass the ball, try to run the point guard, try to think and learn from mistakes.”
His teammates have noticed his work ethic already and believe if he continues on the same path, he will find the personal and, more importantly, team success Rubio craves.
“He’s always in the gym, he’s always doing something, always getting something done,” Ellington told HOOPSWORLD. “So far, that’s what I’m seeing. He’s in there working and he wants to continue to get better and better. I don’t think there really are any difficult adjustments to playing with him. He’s a new player, just like JJ (Barea) or D-Will (Derrick Williams). You kind of have to evolve and adapt to each other’s game, find out each other’s strengths and weaknesses, but other than that, there’s nothing difficult in the adjustment, especially with Ricky. He’s the type of guy everybody loves being on the floor with.”
Rubio may be earning early respect around the league, but don’t expect opponents to make life easy for the rookie. They are going to attack him and make him earn everything he gets, as it should be.
“It’s a double-edged sword in the NBA,” said West. “We love our young guys and their potential, but at the same time, this is the land of the sharks over here. We eat our young over here. We prepare for him like we’re preparing for Wade or Kobe or Steve Nash. I’ll tell you one thing for certain: I wish him the best.”
Rubio wouldn’t have it any other way, but don’t think he cares about his own numbers. Ricky Rubio is all about team—his Minnesota Timberwolves—and the only numbers that matter are in the win/loss column.
“I can’t stop here,” said Rubio. “We play good, but we have to forget what we did. We have to learn from what we did and try to win the games.”
Ricky Rubio, Kevin Love and the Minnesota Timberwolves are playing an exciting brand of basketball. Now, it will be interesting to see if they can utilize their win against the Dallas Mavericks as a springboard to winning on a more regular basis.