3 reasons why Ricky Rubio is a perfect fit with the Minnesota Timberwolves

Ricky Rubio is coming back to the Minnesota Timberwolves. (Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images)
Ricky Rubio is coming back to the Minnesota Timberwolves. (Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images) /
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Minnesota Timberwolves, Ricky Rubio
Ricky Rubio is a solid offensive fit with the Minnesota Timberwolves. (Photo by David Berding/Getty Images) /

Why Ricky Rubio is perfect for the Minnesota Timberwolves: On-court impact

One of the common negative reactions to landing Rubio has been that he’s a primary ballhandler, and why would the Wolves want to take the ball out of D’Angelo Russell‘s hands? After all, D’Lo was just acquired and is on a max contract for a reason — and that reason isn’t his defense.

Let’s start with the offensive side of the ball.

When Russell was an All-Star in Brooklyn in 2018-19, he played plenty of minutes alongside Spencer Dinwiddie. There’s an argument to be made that Dinwiddie is a better player than Rubio, but they’re are least in the same tier of point guard.

But Rubio is a superior all-around and team defender than Dinwiddie and has actually been a better 3-point shooter over the past three seasons: Rubio shot 34.1 percent on 3.5 attempts per game while Dinwiddie clocks in at 32.3 percent on 5.7 long-range tries per contest.

Dinwiddie may be better at shooting from literally everywhere else — mid-range and at the rim, plus more attempts in the paint — but Rubio is better from deep, and his edge on defense matters when comparing the two players.

The best five-man lineup that was used with any frequency for the 2018-19 Nets included both Dinwiddie and Russell, along with sharpshooter Joe Harris, 3-and-D wing DeMarre Carroll, and big man Jarrett Allen. While the Wolves don’t have anyone resembling a Harris or a Carroll (yet), those Nets didn’t have Karl-Anthony Towns.

Rubio will work with Russell on offense, sharing playmaking duties and bringing the ability to knockdown open 3-pointers when given the chance.

Russell is an above-average 3-point shooter off the catch, and is far more dynamic than any wing that Rubio played with for any of his previous six seasons in Minnesota. Late-career Kevin Martin was the closest thing, and while he was a great shooter, but he didn’t have anywhere near the in-between game or passing acumen that Russell brings to the table.

Defensively, Rubio is immediately the Wolves’ most proven defender, both on and off the ball. If Minnesota trots out a lineup with Russell, Rubio, Josh Okogie, and Towns with either Jake Layman or Juancho Hernangomez at the 4, they should be able to manage a passable defensive unit.

Rubio can take the more difficult guard assignments, and a Russell-Rubio backcourt has enough length and size to be disruptive.

Now, let’s talk about the intangibles that Ricky brings to the table.