Ricky Rubio made it known that he was back when he delivered an outstanding performance in his first game since this season against Dallas on December 15. He delivered nine assists, hit six free throws and scored nine points in a 114-106 win.
The Spaniard’s play has plateaued a bit since then, however, and recently Rubio is saying that his body is telling him to slow down. He has yet to start any of the five games and hovers around 18 minutes, topping out at 21 against Houston on December 26.
The following is a quick look at how he’s played so far.
Rubio is not expected to be a scorer for the Wolves, but he has struggled from the field since joining the team. He is currently 5-of-21 (23.9 percent) from the floor and had back-to-back 0-for-3 nights against Orlando (a 102-93 loss) and Oklahoma City (a 99-93 win).
To his credit, however, Rubio has shot well from the charity stripe, making 11 of his 14 attempted free throws (78.6 percent) which was bolstered by a 6-of-8 night against Dallas and a 4-of-4 night against Houston (an 87-84 loss).
It should be noted that Rubio did not attempt a free throw against Orlando or OKC. Also he has a minus-16 scoring differential, including a minus-8 night against the Magic and a minus-9 night against the Rockets.
Rubio had a fantastic night against Dallas with nine assists, five of which were passed to players at the rim.
Since then, however, he has only 11 helpers and only three of those have gone to players at the net.
Part of the reason Wolves fans were excited about Rubio’s return was that his pinpoint passing should bolster the play of the big men inside, especially Kevin Love and Nikola Pekovic. It is concerning then that not only is Rubio producing less assists, but he’s also not getting the ball to the big men underneath.
Finally, Rubio only has five assists that have led to three-pointers, but he also has yet to find a reliable three-point shooter to pass it to.
Again, it’s a small sample size and Rubio appears to be wearing down. Hopefully with the right management of minutes, coach Rick Adelman will find the right balance between giving the point guard enough time to get in rhythm, but also avoid allowing him to run out of gas during the game.
Ball management: C
Since his return, Rubio has turned the ball over 12 times. He also only has six steals.
His worst night came in the 94-91 loss to New York when Rubio turned the ball over five times. Take away that game and he only has seven turnovers and none in his most recent game against Houston.
Given time, Rubio’s ability to distribute the ball all over the court should trump any mishaps with his handles or ill-advised passes. Right now, however, turnovers are a little bit of a concern.
First and foremost, Rubio is an asset to the Timberwolves. Like any player coming off an injury, he’s going to struggle a little bit here and there. Furthermore, this is a small sample size—he’s only played five games.
The information presented here is supposed to be a glance at how he has done so far; it is not an all-encompassing evaluation of his talent.
Hopefully the best has yet to come for the Spanish Sensation. As any Timberwolves fan will tell you, his success is directly linked to the fate of this team.
All statistics are accurate as of January 1, 2013.
Tom Schreier covers the Timberwolves for Bleacher Report and writes a weekly column for TheFanManifesto.com.