As we all know by now, Spanish point guard Ricky Rubio has finally agreed to join the Minnesota Timberwolves next season. So now the question becomes, what will the 20-year-old actually give Minnesota?
Judging by his numbers with FC Barcelona, not much.
Rubio has been hyped ever since he turned pro at age 14, largely because of his showy ball-handling and passing. But is there much actual substance to his game?
Rubio was the MVP of the FIBA Europe Under-16 Championship in 2006, but that was five years ago. He was named FIBA’s European Young Player of the Year three times (2007, 2008 and 2009) and led the Spanish ACB League in steals in both 2007 and 2009.
Those awards all sound nice, but how did he play in actual games? Well, in 2009-10 for Barcelona Rubio played in 42 games (40 starts) and averaged 6.5 points, 4.2 assists, 2.7 rebounds and 1.9 steals in 20.4 minutes per game. He shot just 40.7 percent from the field and 36.6 percent from 3-point range.
In the recently completely 2010-11 season, Rubio’s numbers actually got worse. He played in 42 games (31 starts) and averaged 4.8 points, 4.1 assists, 3.2 rebounds and 1.6 steals in 21.8 minutes per game. He shot a dismal 32 percent from the field and 25.9 percent from 3-point range.
In the Euroleague this year, Rubio averaged 6.5 points, 3.6 assists 3.2 rebounds and 1.7 steals in 20 games (22.7 minutes per game). He also shot just 31 percent from the field in those games.
In Barcelona’s three-game series against Bizkaia Bilbao in the Spanish ACB League Finals, Rubio scored three points. Total. He played a total of 39 minutes and he scored three points. That’s um, that’s not good. He finished with just seven assists in the series.
While I don’t necessarily agree with Mike Wilbon – who said Rubio “couldn’t play dead” – I don’t believe the kid is going to have an immediate, noticeable impact for Minnesota next year. Sure he may make some flashy passes and dazzle with some of his dribbling, but I don’t see him being a superstar or a franchise savior for the T’Wolves. I also don’t see him as “a virtuoso and somebody special” as Minnesota president David Kahn dubbed Rubio shortly after drafting him in 2009.