Rubio’s future days

Benjamin Polk —  June 14, 2011 — 7 Comments

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Because you are a basketball nerd (in a good way), you have possibly been checking out the stats from Regal FC Barcelona’s Spanish league playoff games. Here’s one representative sample, from Barca’s 74-64 victory over Bizkaia Bilbao: 17.5 minutes, 0 points, 2 rebounds, 5 assists. Or this one, from a 71-61 win against Caja Laboral: 19 minutes, 7 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists. Not exactly what you might hope for from the franchise’s savior right?

Indeed, many folks have been very concerned with Rubio’s regression this past season, a regression built on the backs of many stat lines like the ones above. Well here’s some good news. The European game–with its funny looking lane, and its short three and all the hand checking–is vastly different from the NBA. Its safe to say that it can be tough to tell with the naked eye which Euros will have success in the Assocation.

Well, John Hollinger has come up with a way to project European stats into per 36 minute NBA contexts. The beauty of it is that he examines the performance of previous players who have made the jump from Europe to the NBA and finds that the effect on their statistics is relatively predictable. Are are the approximate conversions:

  • Scoring rate decreases 25 percent
  • Rebound rate increases by 18 percent
  • Assist rate increases by 31 percent
  • Shooting percentage drops by 12 percent
  • Overall, player efficiency rating drops by 30 percent
  • So are you curious what Rubio’s stats would look like after this conversion? Me too, and luckily vjl110 of Canis has done the legwork. Right now, he finds, Rubio could be penciled in for approximately 6.7 points, five rebounds and eight assists per 36. (Check out the link for a more detailed account of the methodology). Fascinatingly, the 18-year-old Rubio appeared to be good for 10.8 points, five boards and 11.9 assists/36 minutes in an NBA context. While his rotten scoring efficiency and his statistical regression are puzzling and concerning, these are still some pretty encouraging numbers. Wondering about how these numbers stack up against some recent players? Wonder no longer. Says vls:

    Each of these three players [Kidd, Rondo and Nate McMillan] would be a really exciting outcome for Rubio, and based on his projected NBA statistics, each of these three players is also well within his reach.  Even at 18 years old Rubio was putting up numbers that place him in the same class as the 21 year old Jason Kidd, and the 22 year old Nate McMillan and Rajon Rondo.  His assists rebound and steals are consistently as good or better than each of these three players.  His scoring volume is right in the same range, but he will need to improve on his efficiency to reach even the low bar set be this trio.

    Add to this the fact that, as Biggety2bit pointed out in our very own comment section, Ricky was near the top of the ACB in plus/minus and you get what seems evident to the naked eye when you watch the young fella play: Ricky Rubio is in control of his game; he knows how to help his team; he knows how to play basketball.

    None of this is a guarantee of course, just like there is no guarantee that Rubio will ever improve his scoring to an even average level. But these numbers do act as an antidote to the Wolves cynicism that is becoming increasingly incipient within us all. This kid could be ok.

    Benjamin Polk

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    7 responses to Rubio’s future days

    1. The one thing I would hope Rubio does when he comes here is reduce the number of turnovers we have per game. He may not be a big deal right off the bat, but if he can reduce the turnovers and play good perimeter defense I think that is a significant upgrade that is realistic and attainable that will make a big impact for this young team.

    2. I’m worried that he is not going to improve under Rambis and his staff. Have they developed anyone? Yes, Love might be the exception, but if you put in a tape of the first game of a player under Rambis and the most recent game under Rambis, would you be able to notice?

    3. Count me excited for the impact that Rubio might have.

      Kyle, I wouldn’t hold out for reduced turnovers. Rubio’s style of play, court vision, and passing ability lead him to take risks on occasion that end up as TOs because his teammates simply weren’t expecting that such a pass could be made to them (let alone get there).

      What will be more interesting to watch is how Senor Rubio controls the game. From what little I’ve seen of him he always seems to be in motion, shuffling and reshuffling how the board (er, court) is setup so that he can then initiate X, Y, and Z. To Eric’s point, then, the biggest concern I have with him right now is the prospect of being forced to play in a system where offensively Darko shares equal play making and passing billing – know what I mean? Rubio needs the ball in his hands and the freedom to do what he does, success or fail.

      With the athletes, scorers, rebounders, and shooters accumulated on this team it’s pretty clear what Kahn’s master plan has been – build toward Rubio. Why Rambis doesn’t see that I don’t know. Point is, this team is primed for PnR, running transition offense. Yes!

    4. I agree with biggety that Rubio fits perfectly with the team we have. Even better, he really isn’t going to have to step out of his comfort zone all that much to succeed in Minnesota next year. We need someone who is willing to drive with the intent to pass. Honestly, that’s about it. That’s all we really need from Rubio. We have lots of guys who can hit shots if they don’t have to create them (Wes, Love, Tolliver, Webster, and even Beas and Darko) and lots of guys who can get out and finish in transition (and the outlet passer in the league in Love). Rubio’s biggest knock is that he can’t shoot. So what? We don’t really WANT a PG who shoots a lot. Rubio’s success is going to be shown in the offensive numbers of guys like Wes and Webster rather than his own stats. This team really is designed with Rubio in mind. I don’t want to exonerate Kahn by any stretch of the imagination; his draft record is truly atrocious and he probably has the second worst public image problem in basketball (behind LBJ, of course). But still. This team is going to look a lot better than it did last year with a passing PG running the show.

      Also, if we keep Ridnour, I bet we see a lot of Rubio/Ridnour backcourts to finish games (against teams with smallish 2 guards in particular).

    5. I like his size and that he also can get steals. The offense should be great but what killed us last year was defense. If he can get a couple of steals and stay in front of who ever he is guarding that should help shore up the front line. Pace of play and scoring will make it fun but defense wins games.

    6. I think he’ll be able to transition fine – many of the notable European players have with the exception of Darko. If I remember correctly Brandon Jennings didn’t have great numbers in Europe either, but besides not being a great shooter I really like him.

      But for all the discussion about his offense, do have any indications on how he is on defense? I haven’t seen much but he doesn’t seem very fast or quick and there’s more space in the NBA, so I doubt he’ll get the steals he gets in the Euroleague.

    7. Lowell, I think the problem with having a PnR point guard who can’t shoot or even finish at the rim–even as skilled an operator as Ricky–is that it reduces the amount of options a defense has to account for. To me, the real secret ingredient to the Suns’ unstoppable PnR is that you have to always account for the possibility that Nash can either pull up or take it to the hoop and do both extremely efficiently. That prevents the D from both loading up the paint on the roll man and also staying home on shooters. A good defense can do two of these three things but almost nobody can do all three.

      CJ, vsl from Canis also runs a conversion on Ricky’s defensive stats (although he admits that these are not going to be as methodologically sound as Hollinger’s offensive numbers) and finds that Ricky could reasonably be expected to produce between 2 and 2.5 steals as an NBA player. It’s true that his lateral quickness will be seriously tested against NBA pg’s, but from what I’ve seen and read, I think we can be hopeful that his length and elite-level basketball instincts can make up for it. At the very least I think (dearly, dearly hope) we can expect him to be better defensively than anyone the Wolves have thrown out there in lots of years.

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