The Best of 2015-16: Rubio hits game-winner to defeat Thunder
NBA news isn’t heavy in August. As a result, throughout the next month or so, we at A Wolf Among Wolves will bring back and break down some of our favorite moments from the 2015-16 season.
At this point in the season, the Wolves had more or less completely fallen off the wagon. It was late March, and the Wolves were 20-45 looking to finish the season off with as much pride as they could muster.
The Wolves were facing the Thunder, a team that had legitimate title aspirations (and damn, did they get close). The Wolves were had lost their last 10 against OKC, and being on the road gave this game somewhat of a “flyover territory” feel for League Pass enthusiasts (other than, you know, Durant, Westbrook, Towns and Wiggins on their own merits).
The Wolves were up by double figures somewhat late into the game, but holding off powerhouses Durant and Westbrook is almost impossible for a long stretch. Especially when the team guarding them had one of the five worst defensive ratings in the league.
But Ricky Rubio was on all night. He had 2 three pointers early in the game. Defensively, he was able to hold Russell Westbrook as in-check as possible against that cyborg. Offensively, he was dishing out assists, and hitting his shots.
But, as the game was tied with 10 seconds to go, the ball still went to Andrew Wiggins, whose reputation for garnering assists is near the exact opposite to Rubio’s. But Wiggins must have been watching that night.
As great as this shot was, and as clutch as Rubio was in this situation, I cannot get over how great of a pass this was by Andrew Wiggins.
The play was clearly designed for Wiggins to drive and try to find a shot. His assist numbers (about 2 per game in 2 seasons), albeit too early in his career to read into, are not great. But a pass like this shows he knows how to drive and kick. If he can master this, his game opens up that much more. Forcing the defender to respect the pass is a big deal.
But, more than anything, this shot was about Rubio. Even despite his poor shooting numbers over the years, I don’t cringe when I see him squaring up to take the big shot. He’s hit them before (remember the shot a few years ago against the Clippers that came before Kevin Love’s big 3?), and he’ll hit them again.
Thibs, for the love of all that is good in the world, do not trade this man.