Ricky Rubio is coming. Will he be good?

10 Comments

The good news: Ricky Rubio, the #5 overall pick in the 2009 draft and one of the most dynamic point guard talents in the world, is coming to the NBA and joining the team that drafted him.

The bad news: Rubio really didn’t give Timberwolves fans much to get excited about during his last season with FC Barcelona.

The numbers are ugly: In 23.75 minutes per game last season, Rubio averaged 6.5 points, 3.2 rebounds, and 3.5 assists on 39.2%/22.4%/83.6% shooting, and 1.8 turnovers per game.

Rubio is a big guard who plays great defense and is exceptionally creative in the open floor, two things that will serve him well in the NBA, and FC Barcelona’s style of play didn’t suit Rubio’s game very well. Still, 6.5 points per game on 39% shooting is 6.5 points on 39% shooting.

The most favorable comparisons for Rubio may be Boston’s Rajon Rondo or Milwaukee’s Brandon Jennings. Rondo is a big guard, a tremendously creative passer, a two-way player, has a broken jumper, and played in a system that didn’t suit him.

There are issues with both comparisons. As bad as Jennings (who called Rubio “all hype” when both players were in Europe) was in Europe, he didn’t get nearly as much playing time as Rubio did, and had something that Rubio doesn’t currently possess: a smooth jumper, which allowed him to immediately make an impact as a scoring guard in the NBA.

And while Rondo slid far further than he should have in the draft because Kentucky played in a slow-down system that wasn’t tailored towards him, he was still more successful than Rubio was: Rondo averaged 11.2 points, 6.1 rebounds, and 4.9 assists per game during his last season at Kentucky, and shot 48.2% from the field. Like Rubio, Rondo doesn’t have much of a jumper to speak of, but unlike Rubio, Rondo seems to have always known how to score efficiently without having to make many jump shots. Rubio’s stroke is better than Rondo’s, but he may need to make some dramatic leaps as a shooter to be effective as a scorer in the NBA.

Rubio is talented, and the NBA game is dramatically different from the international game, so it’s impossible to make a solid prediction on how Rubio will do in the NBA. But based on what he showed in Barcelona last year, Rubio has given NBA fans plenty to be skeptical about.

John Wall scores 37 as Wizards down LeBron James, Cavs 127-115

Associated Press
Leave a comment

CLEVELAND (AP) John Wall scored 37 points, Bradley Beal added 27 and the Washington Wizards began a challenging road trip by beating LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers 127-115 on Saturday night.

Wall scored 18 in the first quarter, when the Wizards shot 82 percent, and Washington held on down the stretch to avenge an overtime loss to the NBA champions last month.

James, who briefly wore goggles to protect an eye injury sustained Friday night, scored 24 and added 11 rebounds and eight assists. Kyrie Irving added 23 points and Kevin Love 17 for Cleveland, playing at home for the only time in a seven-game stretch.

Washington’s victory cut Cleveland’s lead in the Eastern Conference to a half-game over idle Boston.

Rudy Gobert calls out Jazz teammates after loss: “We’ve just got to compete. We’re too nice.”

Associated Press
Leave a comment

Utah and the L.A. Clippers are almost locked into a first round, four vs. five battle in the Western Conference. The only question is which team will have home court, and the Clippers took a big step towards that beating the Jazz at home Saturday. While the Jazz still has a half-game lead, the Clippers have a much softer schedule the rest of the way.

After that loss, Jazz center Rudy Gobert was ticked off and called out his teammates. Via Tim MacMahon of ESPN.

“We’ve got guys that compete, but some of us don’t compete. Some of us just think about scoring. That’s what it is. … Coach keeps repeating it: We’ve just got to compete. We’re too nice. Those guys, we know they’re going to get calls. We’ve just got to come out aggressive and ready to fight.”

Interesting comments for a team that is third in the NBA in defensive rating and 13th in offense.

Gobert is frustrated as Utah has dropped four of its last five, and the slump has been on both ends of the court. The defense has struggled, but if guys are looking to score too much they aren’t doing it efficiently because the offense has been worse.

This slide likely costs Utah home court in the first round, which could matter in what will be a tight matchup with Los Angeles. Utah needs to find its grinding rhythm again heading into the playoffs, at their best they can knock off the Clippers in the first round. Just not like they are playing now.

One thing to watch, Utah’s Gordon Hayward asked out of the game in the fourth quarter due to what is being called a bruised muscle in his leg. If he misses any time or if this lingers, it could be trouble for the Jazz in the postseason.

 

LeBron James starts game with protective goggles. That lasts about a minute.

Leave a comment

LeBron James suffered a scratched cornea Friday night when he went up for a layup late in the third quarter and Jeremy Lamb tried to contest and caught him clean across the face. LeBron got the and-1, but had trouble keeping his eye open in postgame interviews Friday.

Saturday he did play — wearing protective goggles. As you can see above.

That lasted about a minute.

LeBron was likely frustrated as the Cavaliers defensive woes had the Wizards up double digits much of the first half.

Kobe Bryant says he’s “only a phone call away” if organization needs his advice

4 Comments

For the first time since he walked off the court in his final game, Kobe Bryant was back at Staples Center Friday night.

The reason was Shaquille O’Neal was getting a statue out in front of Staples Center (a building that may not have gotten built without the two of them). The two famed feuders sat next to each other and joked around through the ceremony. Time heals all wounds.

With the new management of the Lakers — specifically Kobe’s former agent Rob Pelinka as GM — there has been speculation Kobe could take on a role. He’s not looking for something formal, according to reports, but he didn’t say no, either, when asked.

I picture Kobe as a guy who someday buys a team, not a guy who wants to haggle with agents over the details of a contract. He’s not going to take on a day-to-day role, he likes the retired life and what he is building with the Kobe brand.

That said, the Lakers front office can use all the smart voices it can get as they try speed up a rebuild. They should give him a call every once in a while.