Rubio brought down to reality for a moment vs. Kings

by Andrew Kennedy

It seemed every night I looked at the stat sheet and watched Ricky Rubio highlights this season there was something there that would make me smile. He’d either have a crazy plus-minus, a ton of assists or some dazzling passing highlights.

Last night as Minnesota beat the Sacramento Kings 99-86, Rubio wasn’t as great as he normally is. He had a nice stat line, starting the game and playing 38 minutes he scored 9 points along with 8 assists and 8 rebounds but his plus-minus of minus-three was startling.

How is this possible? He is the next Steve Nash who always led the league in plus-minus! This can’t be right!

Obviously I’ve been watching a little too much of lockout-season NBA and I have my expectations too high. Rubio finally had a “not-so-amazing” night, yet still a near triple-double.

The guy I wanted benched or injured so that Rubio could play more, Luke Ridnour who now simply starts with Rubio, had a terrific game. Ridnour had 25 points, 9 assists and made all four of his three-point attempts. And he had a plus-20, plus-minus.

Ridnour and Rubio complimented each other in the passing department last night. Obviously having 17 assists in your starting backcourt is awesome but they each got them in different ways. Ridnour had seven assists for layups or dunks while Rubio had six for three-pointers.

Rubio is so good at getting assists for threes because he is so obsessed with keeping the ball moving and feels uncomfortable to have the ball when he knows someone else is open. The Timberwolves do a good job of surrounding the court with spot-up shooters this season and the result has been a ton of open looks created by Rubio (3rd in the NBA with 3.0 assisters per game leading to threes).

Getting assists for layups and dunks is always the best measure for a good assist. Ridnour thrived in that last night. The reason: Ricky Rubio’s contagious passing ability. That’s right, I’m giving an already pretty good passing point guard’s nine assists credit entirely to the rookie sensation.

This is what makes Rubio so valuable and why I’m by no means upset that he is third in the West among guards in All-Star votes so far. He really does change the attitude and mindset of a team like any great passer throughout history. He may actually deserve to be an All-Star this year.

Kevin Love is having a monster year. Ridnour has also been good. Rick Adelman is a perfect fit as a coach for this team. But it really is Rubio that’s making all the difference and why Minnesota is going to be competing for a playoff spot by the end of the season.