It’s very early in the season, but Ricky Rubio is already grabbing national attention with his waxy passing, and his clutch play late in games. ESPN scout David Thorpe, who specializes in analyzing NBA rookies each year, ranked Rubio as the Top Rookie so far this season. Here’s a link to the article (you need an ESPN Insider membership). Thorpe also notes on Rubio’s underrated defense, as he has very quick hands and instincts that you can’t teach. However, he points out that Rubio needs to become a better off-the-ball defender. Timberwolves teammate Derrick Williams only ranks 12th on the list right now, but look for his stock to rise once he gets more playing time as the season goes on. It’s my hope that the Timberwolves create an opening for Williams with a smart Michael Beasley trade. Stud 2-guard anyone?
Cleveland’s #1 overall pick in 2011, Kyrie Irving, ranked 5th on Thorpe’s list. He’s playing well also, averaging 14 points and 5 assists. Which leads us to ponder tonight’s match-up with Rubio and some other things to look for.
- Rubio versus Irving. A match-up of two 1st round picks intrigues the most tonight. Many Timberwolves faithful were pondering what the team would do if they landed the #1 overall pick last summer. Would you trade Rubio for Irving? I believe most would agree at the time that you would. But right now, it’s clear that Rubio is the right fit for the franchise. Let’s not focus on the stats tonight, but focus on who plays well in the 4th quarter and who ends up winning the game.
- Cavs owner Dan Gilbert and Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor’s half time show debate on how to handle a crisis situation. Look for Gilbert to develope a hernia from his anger, and look for Taylor to hand him customized sympathy card from Carlson Craft.
- Cavaliers rookie Tristan Thompson. He ranked 7th on Thorpe’s list and is playing well out of the gates as well. He’s averaging about 8 points and 5 rebounds per game. Look for him to get a lesson in how to play the power forward from All-Star Kevin Love.
- Timberwolves shooting guard play. This will continue to be a revolving door until the position gets solved. Look for Ridnour to play heavy minutes in the 4th again as it’s clear Wes Johnson is not the answer. Nor is Wayne Ellington.
- Matell Webster’s hair on the bench. Come’on man.
- Kevin Love’s dominance. Love is the first player to have at least 20 points and 12 rebounds in each of his team’s first six games since Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in 1975. Get out and start voting for him to start in the All-Star game!
Prediction: Timberwolves win convincingly down the stretch. The question will be who steps up besides Love and Rubio. It could be any number of guys tonight, as the Cavs don’t present much of an intimidation factor.