In a season where the Minnesota Timberwolves have excelled at losing close games, one player continues to be comfortable watching the final seconds of crucial games from the bench: Ricky Rubio.
Rubio is slowly but surely becoming a bust for the Wolves. When your starting point guard makes his way to the bench late in the game in honor of backup J.J. Barea, something is wrong. Rubio is far from the franchise player the Wolves hoped he would be after he was drafted fifth overall in the 2009 draft. In fact, he might not be one of the five best players on the team.
Granted, Rubio is among the most superlative passers in the league. He can defend and has a nose for the ball. He essentially defines an unselfish player. The main problem with Rubio is simple: he can’t shoot! His shot is flat and he often takes running jumpers — he lacks rotation on his shot. These were skills most basketball players learn in, well, junior high school. In addition, Rubio gambles too much when going for steals. If he misses the steal, it collapses the Timberwolves’ defense and points are typically scored easily in the paint.
Rubio is 23 years old. However, he has already cost the Wolves more than he has brought to the table. After all, he is the reason the Wolves traded Ty Lawson. He is the reason they passed on Steph Curry, Trey Burke, Michael Carter-Williams, and the list goes on (Officially, the Wolves selected Burke and traded him to Utah.).
This season Rubio is averaging a career-low 8.3 points on a career-low 35.4 shooting percentage. Among the rock-bottom moments of the season for Rubio came Jan. 16 in a game against Sacramento. Rubio committed five of Minnesota’s 12 turnovers and the Wolves fell to 0-11 in games decided by four points or less during the loss to the Kings. Since that time, Rubio is often looking for a comfortable seat on the bench for most of the fourth quarter. In other words, Coach Rick Adelman has lost faith in Rubio. Rightfully so, coach.
If Rubio can learn to shoot, the Wolves have a chance to make the playoffs this year. If he continues to hurl pancakes at the rim, the Wolves are doomed. If Rubio can play consistent defense and stay in front of the person he is guarding, there is hope. If he fails to change his strategy, it might be time for a changing of the guard. As with all things relating to the Wolves, time will tell the story.
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