Ricky Rubio is the foundation for the Minnesota Timberwolves to build on.
This is meant as no slight to Kevin Love, who has been an outstanding player for the team since being traded for on draft day out of UCLA in 2008. The bottom line, though, is that Rubio makes the players around him better.
Make no mistake: Kevin Love is a superstar.
Anybody in the league that needs a productive big man would take him right now. He’s a double-double machine, his free-throw percentage typically hovers around 80 percent and when he’s not in the post, he can drill three-pointers from beyond the arc.
The problem is that he’s not good enough to take a team to the playoffs by himself. To be fair, this is probably just the nature of his position: It’s not like he’s a 2 or 3 that can pretty much score at will like a LeBron James, Kobe Bryant or Carmelo Anthony.
I’m not going to go all Glen Taylor on him and say he’s not a superstar because he hasn’t been to the playoffs. At the same time, unless a scorer is capable of dragging a team to the postseason, he’s not the lynchpin of a winning team.
Love is an asset, an important piece in a championship cog, but he’s not the foundation of a winning team.
Rubio is not a scorer. That much we know.
He’s not a great three-point shooter, it’s not like he’s going to suddenly drop a Blake Griffin dunk on somebody and he has trouble creating a shot for himself.
In essence, you can’t drop Rubio on a team full of bozos and hope he wins a championship for you. But if you put the right people around him, he becomes the cornerstone of a championship team.
He needs a stat machine that he can feed inside like Kevin Love.
He needs a big, cuddly and lovable big man like Nikola Pekovic to clog up the middle.
He needs a healthy, competent three-point shooter like, well, aah...nobody on the Wolves active roster right now.
And he needs another reliable guy to help him out in the backcourt (we’re looking at you Alexey Shved!).
Rubio’s a sublime passer. If there’s an open player, he finds them. And he does it in such a flashy, sexy way that it becomes addictive. You have to see it. If you live in Minnesota you have to get down to the Target Center. And, if not, NBA League Pass is a must.
He’s a kindergarten teacher’s best friend: He makes sharing cool.
In no way am I suggesting that the Wolves should boot Love out the door—he’s a must-have if this team wants to win.
But it is Rubio who is going to turn Minnesota’s fortunes around.
He’s the foundation you build a championship team on.
All statistics are accurate as of December 25, 2012.
Tom Schreier covers the Timberwolves for Bleacher Report and writes a weekly column for TheFanManifesto.com.