January 20, 2012

Ricky Rubio: Haters Beware

Remember all the people who immediately called the Wolves stupid for drafting Rubio? All they could talk about was how he wasn’t going to play here, ever, and if he did, he’d suck. I’m not going to say that I was sure he would find his way into a Wolves jersey but I can’t say as though I ever doubted that it was a bad pick.  The value was always there, even if we were forced to trade him.  Then, when he announced he was coming, those folks decided that he was going to suck. Out loud. Sure, he’d had a down year in Spain but he was playing at a higher level than he had played, in different role, and he was getting much less playing time than he was used to. Oh, and he wasn’t trying to Git Buckets. He was trying to fill a roll his team needed him to fill.  Everything I read NOT written in the U.S. was positive about him but here, all they could talk about was how his stats were down across the board.

Yeah, in 32 minutes a game he’s scoring 10.7 points per game and a whopping 8.3 assists per game. Anyone who expects more out of a rookie point guard doesn’t pay much attention to basketball. Sure, they can throw Chris Paul at me, but he’s a freak – always has been, always will be. Sure, he’s not Magic Johnson, but the Wolves aren’t the Lakers. James and Kareem would do wonders for Ricky too – not to take away from the Magic of Ervin.

But if you take a look at a number of similar players – point guards taken in the top-10 and some later round surprises that have become leaders at the position – Ricky looks like he’s doing just fine thank you very much.  Yeah, he’s not lighting up the league like Chris Paul or Derrick Rose did in their rookie years, but he’s out performing Rajon Rondo and Tony Parker in their first years in the league. Ray Felton and D.J. Augustin aren’t necessarily guys you want to compare a top-5 pick to, but he’s on par with them in their rookie years overall. His 8.3 assists per game rank pretty high as far as rookies go.  It hurts me, but that’s the number Marbury put up his rookie year and, despite his short comings overall, he was as impressive a point guard the Wolves have ever had. He helped them to the playoffs for the first time, he assisted in their first 50-win season before turning into a total asshole.

It’s early in a shortened season but I have one message to anyone who doubted Ricky’s skills. Suck it. Suck it long and suck it hard.  The kid can play, that much we know.  Will he become an All-Star? Who knows.  But can the kid play PG in the NBA? Yes, yes he can. And no one is happier to see that than me.

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