Something that may have gone unnoticed last night, many nights actually, is our Wolves improved defense. If any one man receives the lion’s share of credit for this, it should be our new taskmaster, Rick Adelman. However over at the mother ship, our fair leader, Henry Abbott, shines some light on who’s making a difference on the court. Surprisingly enough to some, it’s our offensive wunderkind, Ricky Rubio.
BasketballValue tells us that when Rubio is on the court, the Timberwolves are giving up 95 points per 100 possessions. When he’s off, that number is 104. It’s early yet, and those adjusted plus/minus numbers are particularly vulnerable to small sample sizes. But it looks right now like Rubio is already a difference-maker defending NBA guards, and that his impact on defense rivals all that stuff he’s doing at the other end.
Derrick Rose was every bit himself last night, with 31 points and 11 assists. But injury or not, he should’ve had more. To these eyes, there were at least a half dozen instances in which Rose’s maddening changes of direction were anticipated and stifled by Rubio, who finished with four steals.
There were several concerns about Rubio’s game before he ever donned a Wolves uniform: His shot, his athleticism and even though he was ACB’s 2009 Defensive Player of the Year, many questioned if he could keep up on this level. One by one these myths are slowly being dispelled, if not completely eradicated.