Why the Timberwolves should not trade Ricky Rubio

Apr 13, 2016; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Timberwolves guard Ricky Rubio (9) looks to pass the ball around New Orleans Pelicans guard Toney Douglas (16) in the first half at Target Center. Mandatory Credit: Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 13, 2016; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Timberwolves guard Ricky Rubio (9) looks to pass the ball around New Orleans Pelicans guard Toney Douglas (16) in the first half at Target Center. Mandatory Credit: Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports /

The idea of trading Ricky Rubio continues to be a touchy and largely-divisive subject among Timberwolves fans, and rumors don’t appear to be stopping anytime soon.

The Ricky Rubio trade rumors continue to fly. This has been a common subject ever since last year’s trade deadline during which the Timberwolves reportedly had in-depth conversations with Milwaukee.

Even after the new regime has taken over, the talks have not stopped and show no signs of doing so. Now, the Wolves have a new point guard in Kris Dunn, and it seems that Rubio leaving Minneapolis is inevitable. But I am here to give my opinion that this would be the wrong move for Tom Thibodeau to make.

My main issue with Thibodeau moving Rubio almost immediately after getting hired is that Thibs has spent zero time coaching him, and has yet to watch him play in Thibs’ own system. It’s one thing to see game tape or to coach against a player; it’s another thing to have him on your side and see who he truly is outside of the  48 minutes on the court.

It is well-established that Rubio is a hard worker and that he is immensely talented. I mean, he started playing professional ball at age 14. Teammates like him seem to be few and far between. From the very beginning, Rubio has been a team player and a leader. He has not caused problems on or off the court and he consistently makes this team better with him on the floor.

From Basketball-Reference.com:

On CourtMIN23220.50424.273.949.565.398.614.8109.2
Off CourtMIN16540.4924.475.750.

Simply by looking at the above numbers, it is very easy to see Rubio’s impact on offensive end of the floor. When Rubio sits, the Wolves as a team are a -8.2 and their offensive rating drops from 109 to 103.

Virtually all of the Wolves’ offensive statistics improve greatly while Rubio is on the floor. Assist, steal, block and turnover percentage all take a turn for the better, and for all the people that say Rubio can’t shoot or can’t score, I’ll leave you with one statistic: with Rubio on the floor, the Timberwolves eFG% is .504. With him off the floor the Wolves eFG% is .490.

That’s right: the team, as a whole, shoots better with Rubio in the game.

On CourtMIN23220.51626.175.850.557.87.57.316109.1
Off CourtMIN16540.53524.375.649.855.

If we turn our eyes towards the defensive statistics we can see that there is a case for Rubio being an excellent individual defender — and let’s face it, the Wolves were horrific on that end of the floor last year.

When Rubio is off the floor, the opposing team shoots 53 percent as opposed to 51percent when Rubio is on the floor. In related news, opposing teams’ offensive rating takes a hit with Rubio on the floor. Those offensive ratings for opponents show how bad a defensive team the Wolves were last year, and they also show the influence that Rubio has.

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While the difference is minimal on a statistical level, it is very apparent on a visual level. Ricky is a tenacious defender and is constantly hustling. He is also the optimal size and has the tools to match-up with the other point guards in the league.

Standing at 6′-4″ with nearly a 6′-8″ wingspan and excellent hands, this gives Rubio the length and quickness to keep defenders in front of him, pester them with the ball and forces turnovers (as seen by the statistics above).

Again from Basketball-Reference, a summary of where Rubio takes his shots and the percentage at which he makes them.

% FGA by distance2P0-33–1010–1616 <33P
FG%2P0-33–1010–1616 <33P

Looking at  Ricky Rubio, the individual offensive player, it tends to be a mixed bag.

The not-so-good thing is that Rubio averaged 10.1 points per game on 37 percent shooting. The bright spot, however, is that post-All-Star break Rubio shot 40 percent from the field and 37percent from the three-point line.

A slight majority of Rubio’s shots come at or around the rim or from behind the three-point line at 53 percent. Rubio shot nearly 52 percent from within three feet of the basket this year. Once he starts taking shots from downtown, he is only three percentage points below league-average at 35.4 percent.

The downside in all these shooting statistics comes when Rubio takes shots from 16-feet out to just inside the three-point line. This accounts for nearly 34 percent of his shots, and when shooting from this distance Rubio only made 38.6 percent of his attempts.

Ricky has seen it all here in Minneapolis, save for the playoffs. From the 2009 NBA Draft, tearing his ACL as a rookie, Kevin Love’s knuckle push-ups the following year, and now, for the first time, a potential future Hall of Famer in Karl-Anthony Towns.

Next: On The Timberwolves' Signing Of Cole Aldrich

The potential of this team is in place. The pieces are all here to build something special and I believe that Rubio should be a piece of this puzzle. Rubio needs to be on this team, not only for his on court production, but also for his leadership.