Ricky Rubio | 2013-14 Profile

by Mark Remme
Web Editor
@markremme

­ Editor’s Note: Throughout the next month, Timberwolves.com will take a look back at the Wolves’ 2013-14 roster individually and look ahead to the upcoming offseason and 2014-15 campaign. Part XIII looks back on Ricky Rubio’s third NBA season, all with the Timberwolves.

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Ricky Rubio

PG | 6-4, 185 pounds

2013-14 season: 82 GP, 82 GS, 32.2 MPG, .368 FG%, .331 3FG%, 9.5 PPG, 8.6 APG, 4.2 RPG, 2.3 SPG

In some ways, it feels like Ricky Rubio has been around forever. If you think about his meteoric rise to international sensation status at the 2008 Olympics, the fact that he was picked fifth overall in 2009 and the way he was inserted as a cornerstone of the Wolves’ franchise when he first came to the U.S. in 2011, there has been non-stop publicity and storylines surrounding him in this market for years.

So it’s strange to think that Rubio is only 23 years old, and he’s only played in 180 career games. That’s the equivalent of just over two NBA seasons.

Huh?

But that’s a fact. Rubio is still incredibly young and didn’t get the benefit of a full NBA season until his third year in the league. As a rookie, the lockout and his torn ACL in March limited him to 41 games, and in his second season he rehabbed that left knee until mid-December before going on a strict minute-count and schedule that restricted play in back-to-backs. It wasn’t until 2013-14 that Rubio, fully healthy and ready to build off the parts of his first two seasons that created so much energy and buzz in this organization, got a chance to play from start to finish.

He played in and started all 82 games last year, a major feat for a major piece of the Wolves’ roster.

Because of Rubio’s status and how long it seems he’s been on our radar, it’s easy to forget how choppy those first two seasons were for Rubio and how much work he needed to put in to get all the way back.

But now here he is, back at full strength. Last season, he finished fifth overall in the league with 8.6 assists per game and was second to only John Wall in total assists—finishing with 703 for the year. He was second in steals per game with 2.32—trailing only Chris Paul in that department—but he led the league with 190 steals overall on the year.

He played 32.2 minutes per game over the course of a full 82-game slate, he brought down 3.4 boards per game and he shot a career-high 38.1 percent from the field. He recorded 15 double-doubles and two triple-doubles (both career-highs) and averaged a 3.17 assist-to-turnover ratio.

Rubio continues to grow and develop, and he’s still a work in progress on the offensive end. But he’s young, he’s talented, he possesses a desire to win and he works tirelessly on his strength, endurance and his basketball skills.

He’s the type of player who makes you wonder what type of leap he’ll make from one season to the next, and that holds true for his jump into the 2014-15 campaign.

Ricky Rubio’s Top Games

March 19 at Dallas: This was Rubio’s best overall game of the season, and it might have been his best overall game of his young NBA career. He played 49 minutes on the road against a Dallas team that was fighting for its playoff life, and at the time Minnesota was still very much in the hunt for the eighth seed. He came out and scored 22 points on 8-of-12 shooting, then racked up 15 assists and 10 rebounds to go along with four steals and a block. He was 6-of-7 from the line, and he was virtually all over the place on the court. Most importantly, the Wolves came away with a 123-122 victory in overtime against the Mavs. And ironically, this game happened within a week of the one-year anniversary of his first career triple-double and within 10 days of the two-year anniversary of his torn ACL in 2012.

Nov. 10 at Los Angeles Lakers: This was Rubio’s first triple-double of the season and the second of his career. He did it during a game that will likely be remembered for two reasons that overshadow Rubio’s individual performance: The Wolves scored 47 first quarter points at Staples Center, and the Wolves beat the Lakers (113-90) for the first time in 22 outings. Yet Rubio’s individual performance was noteworthy because, again, he was incredibly versatile on the court. He finished the game with 12 points on 5-of-9 shooting, including 2-of-2 from 3-point range, and he also snagged 14 assists, 10 rebounds and five steals. It was only the second time in franchise history that a player recorded a 10/10/10/5 game—Kevin Garnett also did so on Dec. 14, 1999.

April 8 vs. San Antonio: Rubio was effective in this game as well, and doing it in a win over the Spurs always gains you points in the top games department. He played 34 minutes in this one and shot 10-of-17 on his way to 23 points on the night. He also added in seven assists, two rebounds and a steal. Overall it wasn’t a gaudy stats game for Rubio, but he was a team-high plus-25 against San Antonio on this night and helped orchestrate a win without starters Nikola Pekovic and Kevin Martin in the lineup.

Top Offseason Objectives

It’s no secret that Rubio’s top offseason objective is to continue working on his shot and getting comfortable hitting with more efficiency in game settings. Rubio is a guy who takes great pride in how he performs on the court, and his shooting is something he’s worked hard on throughout his time in the NBA. Last year in particular, he worked with assistant coach David Adelman after almost every practice trying to get comfortable coming off screens, shooting off balance and extending beyond the arc. The translation from in-practice to in-game is often the biggest challenge—I’ve seen Dwight Howard hit several free throws in a row at shootaround on multiple occasions, but that doesn’t seem to translate to fourth quarters. Yet Rubio is a tireless worker, and if there’s anyone who will put in the hours to get more comfortable with his shot, it’s him. He’s spending part of his offseason overseas and is scheduled to play with Team Spain in the FIBA World Cup this September.

They Said It…

"Whatever the team needs. I have been working on that area, my shooting. If the team needs me to score I will… I am doing my thing and trying to help the team."— Wolves point guard Ricky Rubio during Training Camp in Mankato last October