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How Ricky Rubio's game translates to the NBA

Discussion in 'NBA Dish' started by arif1127, Jun 16, 2011.

  1. arif1127

    arif1127 Contributing Member
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    Kevin Pelton believes in Rubio much more than I do.

    http://insider.espn.go.com/nba/insider/news/story?id=6639566

    Two years after the Minnesota Timberwolves drafted him fifth overall, it appears Ricky Rubio is headed for the NBA. Now comes the more important question: Can Rubio play? Precocious talent made Rubio a lottery pick, but his disappointing 2010-11 campaign for FC Barcelona renewed doubts about Rubio's unique skill set.

    While Rubio may be a mystery to most American fans, he already has a long track record of performance as a professional in Europe. In "Pro Basketball Prospectus 2010-11," we found that the Euroleague ranks second only to the NBA in terms of level of play -- higher than even the toughest NCAA competition.

    The same method used to compare leagues serves as the foundation for translating Euroleague statistics to their NBA equivalents, a method very similar to the one used by ESPN Insider's John Hollinger in the past. Based on the track record of nearly 50 players who have crossed the pond in both directions, we know that players coming from the Euroleague to the NBA tend to see their steal rates and usage decline dramatically. But because of stingy European scorers (or their generous American counterparts), they actually tend to increase their assists.

    Combining Rubio's translated performance the past two seasons with the average development of players at the same age, and assuming he plays the same 30.4 minutes per game that Timberwolves starter Luke Ridnour played last season, Rubio projects to have the following stat line:


    8.9 points per game
    4.6 rebounds per game
    7.3 assists per game
    1.8 steals per game

    For a rookie point guard who will turn 21 just before the season, those would be excellent numbers. Rubio is unlikely to be effective as a scorer -- Ridnour averaged 11.8 points in the same minutes -- but this projection would put him just outside the league's top 10 in assists per game and comfortably in the top 10 in steals.

    What Rubio's conventional stats fail to do justice to is just how extreme the strengths and weaknesses of his game truly are. For that, we need to dig into some more advanced stats:

    Stat line
    What Ricky Rubio's numbers project to look like in his rookie NBA season.

    2P% 3P% FT% TS% Reb% Ast% Stl% Usg TO%
    .358 .267 .886 .493 .084 .104 .026 .167 .224
    The biggest weakness of Rubio's game isn't hard to spot: He struggles to shoot the basketball, at least when confronted by defenders (though Rubio is an excellent free throw shooter). Turning to a more conventional number, Rubio is projected to shoot 31.7 percent from the field. Just two players in the last four decades have shot so poorly in a season with at least 250 attempts: uber-bust Nikoloz Tskitishvili and journeyman Erick Strickland.

    Rubio's 3-point shot was showing signs of improvement before this season, when he cratered to 22.4 percent (11-of-49) from beyond the arc in Euroleague play. Not coincidentally, this marked the first year FIBA moved the international line back to 22 feet, 2 inches from its previous distance of 20 feet, 6 inches. In time, Rubio may grow into a capable 3-point shooter from the NBA line (23 feet, 9 inches). But finishing inside the arc has been a more persistent foe. Only one NBA regular (Steve Blake of the L.A. Lakers, at 32.7 percent) shot as poorly on 2s in 2010-11 as Rubio's projection.

    Turnovers also figure to be a problem for Rubio as a rookie. It is possible to succeed while turning the ball over on more than 22 percent of your possessions -- Jason Kidd, Steve Nash and Rajon Rondo all fell into that category this season -- but Rubio's decision-making is still a work in progress.

    So if he can't shoot and turns the ball over, why is Rubio worth the trouble? The answer lies in the rest of his stat line, where Rubio excels. Once we account for European scoring, Rubio's vaunted court vision is easily evident. Just 11 point guards handed out an assist on at least 10 percent of their teams' plays in 2010-11. Eight of the 11 have been All-Stars at some point, and the others are career starters.

    Reviews of Rubio's individual defense are mixed, but there's no questioning his abilities as a thief. Rubio's translated steal rate would put him just outside the league's top 10. Rubio will also help the Timberwolves on the glass, where he hasn't gotten enough credit. If he indeed grabs 8.4 percent of all available rebounds, as his translation indicates, Rubio would lead all point guards. The Oklahoma City Thunder's Russell Westbrook was tops in rebounding from the point guard spot in 2010-11, grabbing 7.7 percent of available rebounds.

    Based on Rubio's Euroleague performance, he should be able to help Minnesota as a rookie by upgrading a position that was a major weakness in 2010-11. Ridnour was stretched playing 30 minutes a night, especially defensively, and Jonny Flynn proved a terrible fit for coach Kurt Rambis' triangle offense. A Rubio-Ridnour combination would be much more effective.

    Rubio remains an unfinished project. To live up to the expectations of greatness, he must substantially improve his shooting and continue to develop his ballhandling. That's where his Spanish track record is more troublesome. The notion that Rubio took a step backward this past season appears overstated statistically. Besides the drop in 3-point shooting, his Euroleague statistics suggest the biggest change in his game was that he had the ball in his hands less frequently in Barcelona's unfriendly offense. Granting that, Rubio has failed to make as much progress as expected in the two years since he was drafted. He is largely the same player, yet without the same benefit of youth.

    That's why, as Chad Ford wrote last week, the time is right for Rubio to come to the NBA. Given all the Timberwolves have invested in Rubio, the team must aid his development by putting him in an offense that plays to his strengths, with transition opportunities and regular pick-and-rolls.

    If Minnesota does that, Rubio may well prove worth the wait.
     
  2. Commodore

    Commodore Contributing Member

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    <object width="384" height="216" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" id="ESPN_VIDEO" data="http://espn.go.com/videohub/player/embed.swf" allowScriptAccess="always" allowNetworking="all"><param name="movie" value="http://espn.go.com/videohub/player/embed.swf" /><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"/><param name="wmode" value="opaque"/><param name="allowScriptAccess" value="always"/><param name="allowNetworking" value="all"/><param name="flashVars" value="id=6618895"/></object>
     
  3. CometsWin

    CometsWin Breaker Breaker One Nine

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    Rubio's game reminds me most of Rondo's game. Of course Rondo has talent around him whereas Rubio will be on the Wolves so... yeah.
     
  4. arif1127

    arif1127 Contributing Member
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    From the little I've seen of Rubio, Rondo looks much more athletic. If Minny runs with Rubio pushing the ball and Wesley Johnson and Michael Beasly running the wings, they may have some success. They'll be a horrible half court team though.
     
  5. CometsWin

    CometsWin Breaker Breaker One Nine

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    Yeah I didn't mean his physical attributes. He's definitely longer and has a lanky type frame. But the rebounding and the assists and the limited offensive skills are very Rondo'ish.
     
    #5 CometsWin, Jun 16, 2011
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2011
  6. arif1127

    arif1127 Contributing Member
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    Yeah, that's true, but without Rondo's sick quicks, a no jump shot pg will have a very tough time getting into the paint.
     
  7. OHMSS

    OHMSS Rookie

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    Rubio is like Rafer Alston without a jump shot.
     
  8. Sym0™

    Sym0™ Member

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    I lol'd
     
  9. OHMSS

    OHMSS Rookie

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    Rafer Alston is like Steve Nash in terms of shooting as compared to Rubio. Alston is literally 10 times better at shooting than Rubio is.
     
    1 person likes this.
  10. Shrimz

    Shrimz Member

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    he makes 310% of the shots he takes?
     
  11. kingjosh

    kingjosh Member

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    Did rubio bang your mother or something? your hate for him is ridiculous. Regardless of what your perception is (i dont care if he struggled last season, he is 20 y.o and has all the physical attributes you would expect of a great PG) - he at least has a chance at being a great point guard.
     
  12. Honey Bear

    Honey Bear Contributing Member

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    He's a former Euroleague cheerleader who's now a male and on a mission to make it seem like the greatest league in the world (better than the NBA). So in his world this means Rubio sucks and the guys that remain with FC Barcelona are too good for the NBA.

    It's simple logic.

    -OHMSS
     
  13. jopatmc

    jopatmc Contributing Member

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    When you have a PF that can spot up in the corner, and 4 other guys that can run pick and roll or pick and pop, Rubio will have no problem getting to the rim.

    Now, if you put him on a team with 4 guys that can't shoot, so the D can pack the paint, he'll have trouble getting to the rim. But Love and Johnson and Beasley can most definitely shoot it.
     
  14. warmshizzle

    warmshizzle Member

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    Rubio will be fine in the NBA. His jumpshot isnt consistant but its far from broke. hes got good mechanics and it seems like his jumper just needs time and practice, also the main thing about is shot is that his release point isn't consistent enough, which nba shooting coaching should be able to fix no problem.

    Definitely needs to work on finishing his layups though, he can get to the rim no problem but always throws up a hopeful flip shot
     
  15. bloodwings19

    bloodwings19 Member

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    Rubio is going to be like Goran Dragic, some flashes and some awful games. The reason Rubio decides to play for Minnesota is because he was riding the bench for Barcelona. Maybe a change of scenery will help his game because the best Barcelona player was J.Navarro, former NBA guard and current Finals MVP. I hope Rubio does good, need more good highlights, not just dunk highlights.
     
  16. emjohn

    emjohn Contributing Member

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    I'll be interested to see how he does. I think it's paramount that the Wolves move to a high screen offense - if Rubio can't hit a stand still outside shot, he's dead.

    You've got to play to a guy's strengths, and I don't think a traditional inside out game is going to suit him well - he needs to play with the 4 and 5 clearing out the paint for him to create.
     
  17. _RTM_

    _RTM_ Member

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    <object width="560" height="349"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/v/PFSYHonZo_M?version=3&amp;hl=ru_RU"></param><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"></param><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always"></param><embed src="http://www.youtube.com/v/PFSYHonZo_M?version=3&amp;hl=ru_RU" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="560" height="349" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true"></embed></object>
     
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  18. sbyang

    sbyang Member

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    The 88% FT is a great sign that he can turn himself into a decent jump shooter, at least a stand still jump shooter, in the future.
     
  19. _RTM_

    _RTM_ Member

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    Crap, my bad

    <object width="560" height="349"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/v/xKAd6qxvexk?version=3&amp;hl=ru_RU"></param><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"></param><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always"></param><embed src="http://www.youtube.com/v/xKAd6qxvexk?version=3&amp;hl=ru_RU" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="560" height="349" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true"></embed></object>
     
  20. Baqui99

    Baqui99 Contributing Member

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    Rubio is Dogus Balbay without the Defense.

    [​IMG]
     

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