Although it is absurd to imagine that Ricky Rubio’s career is over – he is 26, only just now approaching the peak of his career – there’s no getting away from the creeping fear that are witnessing a player who will never be all that we imagined that he might be. His problem, in a word, is shooting; it is not simply that he is bad at shooting, but that he is awful at it. Not only has he never shot better than 40 percent, he has only once shot better than 37.5 percent.
His problem, in a word, is shooting; it is not simply that he is bad at shooting, but that he is awful at it. Not only has he never shot better than 40 percent, he has only once shot better than 37.5 percent. He is such a shooting liability that teams are willing to let him shoot from almost anywhere, thus allowing them to focus their defensive efforts elsewhere, thus depressing the Timberwolves offensive output. It is a truly grisly situation.
The truly awful part about all of this is how good Rubio could potentially be. That he still managed 8.1 assists without his defenders having any reason to stay near him is staggering. That he passes into what are essentially five-man defensive front while averaging only 2.2 turnovers is equally impressive. His assist-to-turnover ratio is good for third in the league, lagging behind only Chris Paul and Andre Iguodala. He is among the league’s very best distributors. On top of that, he is also a league-leader in steals, taking the ball away almost as often as he turns it over.
But his shooting undoes him. It always undoes him. If he could crack even 40 pecent, we’re not having this conversation, but he can’t. Sigh.
One possibility for the man’s rebirth is a new team. Although Minnesota hasn’t been able to fix Rubio’s shooting woes, another team elsewhere might be able to.* It is for that reason alone that he remains so tantalizing.
Well, that and getting to watch him distribute the ball:
So here’s hoping that help is on the way, be it epiphany or a new location or, if neither of those, then literally anything that unlocks the man to be the fullest player that he can possibly be.
*That team should be San Antonio. They turned Kawhi Leonard into a sharpshooter. If they can do even half of that for Rubio, he is a brand new player with a brand new career. My fingers are very tightly crossed.