And Kenny Smith shared this incredible insight at halftime…
What you have to do to become an elite point guard is take over a game. And his only way to take over a game is with passing. Defensively he doesn’t take it over with steals or by stopping his man. He doesn’t take it over with scoring. He only takes it over by passing.
And then I turned the sound off.
Not only is Ricky averaging 4 steals and 6 boards over his last 5, but this…
Oh, alright, Kenny’s just generating discussion, not critical analysis — if he was, he’d be out of a job.
For that, we turn to Mr. Harper at A Wolf Among Wolves, as he breaks down Ricky’s evolution as a scorer, and the effects of his newfound aggressiveness since he’s gotten his legs back under him.
He’s learning to get the ball to the backboard and rim a lot quicker than he has been previously. He’s also able to rush his shot without getting completely out of control. Occasionally, you see him revert back to bad habits of not being controlled around the basket, but the fact that he’s getting blocked more and converting more shows there is some progress there. And with the injuries to the team, Rubio definitely sees a need to shoot more with his legs back under him.
“Yeah, I feel better physically and that help me to be more aggressive,” Rubio said after the loss to the Blazers. “Try to take more responsibility on offense.”
Rubio’s inability to make shots both is and isn’t a problem right now. I’m not going to try to sugarcoat everything and tell you he’s a good scorer now; he’s not. What he is doing is attempting to score more, especially when going to the basket. This will help open up a lot of things for him with shooting the ball (as he hopefully remembers to work on that arc) and with his passing once he gets into the lane. His inability to make shots is a problem in the sense that the Wolves’ offense is terrible right now. It’s 24th in the league and they need someone to step up. Rubio has obliged there by getting the defense in foul trouble and trying to score around the basket.
Can you imagine a lineup of Kevin Love, Nikola Pekovic, and the new aggressive version of Ricky Rubio all drawing fouls at the rate we’ve seen them do it? The Wolves already live at the free throw line, but now they could retire and build a guesthouse for their friends and family to come visit them at the charity stripe.
Where Rubio’s inability isn’t a problem is the fact that he doesn’t have a gunner’s mentality. For the most part, he’s attempting to take good shots right now, which will help him learn how to make accuracy a regular thing for him. He rarely takes a 3-point shot he can’t hit. He tends to be taking more jumpers going to his right off of a screen in the center of midtown in the half court, which is a shot he’s consistently starting to hit. He’s attacking the lane and getting to the free throw line, his two most efficient spots on the floor.
As Pek suffered an abdominal strain and is listed as doubtful for Saturday’s game at Portland, Ricky will get all the chances he can handle to provide more scoring.