Archives For Ricky Rubio

Rubio Layup

By now, you know all the gaudy accolades Kevin Love is stockpiling. If you don’t know them by heart, it’s owed to information overload rather than apathy. Love was the first player in NBA history with 160 points, 80 rebounds and 30 assists in his first six games of the season (according to the Elias Sports Bureau). He’s first player in NBA history with at least four 3-pointers, 19 rebounds and seven assists in a game (via Sportando). Lengthy homages are paid to his outlet passing. He and Ricky Rubio teamed up for one of the best ESPN basketball commercials in recent memory. Countless, terrific features are being written about him by very talented people. His re-emergence as a dominant force, following a lost season in 2012-13, has been the talk of the league through its first three weeks.

If you care to branch out a bit, you may learn about Corey Brewer, who is garnering attention for being on the receiving end of many of Love’s patented outlets, as well as for bringing energy to the floor every single night. You might consider the blazing start Kevin Martin’s put together, scoring at least 20 points in 9 of the 10 games he’s appeared and hitting nearly half (21/43) of his three-pointers from the left side of the floor. You may have even noticed Nikola Pekovic getting in on the fun, the $60 million man recovering from a slow beginning to average 17.3 points and 8.8 boards on nearly 74% shooting over his past four games.

But why not dig even deeper? The Wolves average more than 102 possessions per 48 minutes — Minnesota’s offense is more than Corey Brewer in transition, Nikola Pekovic in the paint, Kevin Martin shooting threes and Kevin Love doing everything. So what else happens? What can we learn about the team by focusing on a couple of the lesser-known, quirkier elements of their offensive attack? Continue Reading…

WolvesTrio

I would like to preface this post with the fact that I have full confidence in Rick Adelman’s coaching abilities, fully believe in his philosophies when it comes to basketball, and think his offensive system is superb. I will never pretend to know as much about basketball theory or even half of the practical applications of said theories in comparison to Rick Adelman.

The offense of the Minnesota Timberwolves is crucial. This isn’t so much basketball theory as an expectation of what’s in store for us this season. I’m not breaking any ground in telling you that the Wolves have to be good on offense. This isn’t news to anybody reading this site. The Wolves need to score points and we expect that they’ll need to score a lot of points in order to neutralize whatever shortcomings are there on defense. We felt this way going into last season. Points wouldn’t be the problem; defense would.

Turns out that was backwards but mostly due to an injury rash that turned into an injury flesh-eating bacteria. Kevin Love went down. Ricky Rubio came back but missed significant time while needing a month or two to get back to where he needed to be. Brandon Roy never materialized. Chase Budinger went down for the middle of the season with love handles on each side of that middle. Nikola Pekovic and Andrei Kirilenko were sporadically banged up. The season fell apart before we could even see how it fit together.

And that’s why the offense of the Wolves is so crucial this year. I think we see frustration this early from Rick Adelman for two reasons: Continue Reading…

The NBA’s annual GM Survey hit the stands on the internet today and the Wolves were prominently featured throughout the polling.

As you can see in the tweet above, Kevin Love won the award for doing the most with the most limited of natural ability. We’ll get into more of that later, but for now it’s interesting to see where the lay of the league is in the eyes of the general managers around the NBA. Here’s the full survey from John Schuhmann of NBA.com.

Let’s get into where the Wolves fall in some of these questions:  Continue Reading…

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This picture has nothing to do with what I wrote about. (Getty)

Trying to find something to write about coming off of a preseason game against a bad team is really hard to do.

I could go through and critique the play of guys that are doing basic things in basic schemes and playing in a basketball environment that really won’t be similar to the regular season style we see in a week and a half. But really, it’s not actually analyzing anything of substance and it kind of just wastes everybody’s time. Finding a hook for these games outside of “I wonder if Othyus Jeffers and Robbie Hummel have shown enough to make the team” is pretty tough.

However, I saw a brief conversation on Twitter tonight after the game that actually fired up some of those writing juices and made me want to look at a small sample of something the Wolves did and extrapolate that as a bigger basketball theory. Phil Mackey of 1500 ESPN posed this subject after the victory Sunday night:  Continue Reading…

This move Kevin Love worked on in the offseason isn't great. (Getty)

This move Kevin Love worked on in the offseason isn’t great. (Getty)

I tried. I really tried to churn out some thoughts on the Wolves losing to CSKA Moscow on Monday night and just nothing appeared. The effort was there for me trying to write about what was an on-the-surface embarrassing loss to a really talented Euroleague team. But ultimately, I just didn’t care enough about the result or what we saw on the court from a team standpoint.

And really, that was the problem with the Wolves in that game as well. I’m not sure they cared enough about their opponent throughout the 53 minutes of action to really want to do what they were supposed to do. There were individual players like Derrick Williams, Othyus Jeffers, A.J. Price, and Ronny Turiaf that appeared to give a damn. They fought through as much as they could against CSKA Moscow and nearly walked away with a victory. But there were too many mental mistakes, too many lazy offensive sets, too many poor defensive rotations throughout the game to end up defeating a quality opponent.

Make no mistake about it either; CSKA Moscow was a quality opponent. They have six guys (seven if Sonny Weems is playing) that can play in the NBA right now. The rest of their team is full of solid players as well. It’s an opponent that even the third string of the Wolves should be able to close out, but you have to have a full game of effort in order to do that. The Wolves didn’t have that and it showed both in their play and in the way Rick Adelman discussed the game afterward.

That wasn’t the case Wednesday night against the Toronto Raptors.  Continue Reading…

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If an exhibition game of NBA 2K14 is anything to judge by, the Timberwolves shouldn’t have any problem handling Moscow CSKA tonight at the Target Center. After one false start (ProTip: European teams’ visiting jerseys are white, so if you’re playing against an NBA team, you need to make them both wear home colors to tell them apart) I put the new-look Wolves through their paces against visiting CSKA. Continue Reading…

BareaInquisitive

With a couple days until the Minnesota Timberwolves kick off their 2013 Media Day and officially get going on starting the new season, we’re still finding things to pass the time. Some people may be doing it with Grand Theft Auto V or even by reading my Rabbit Hole posts on CBSSports.com (shameless plug!). Some people are wrapped up in the NFL season and the close of the baseball season. And some of us are ranking players on various platforms.

ESPN.com is pumping out the NBARank project right now with more than 100 bloggers, writers, and media pundits giving each player a score on a scale of 1 to 10. Then those scores are averaged out for each player and that’s how we get their rank. There are 500 players ranked each season and it gives an interesting look into how the collective can come to certain conclusions about every player around the league. It doesn’t make the rankings definitive by any means but it certainly gives you a good idea of how the basketball coverage community views the players.

NBARank is past the halfway point in the rankings, so I thought it might be a good idea to check out which Wolves players fell from 190-500. Again, these rankings are not definitive and you’ll find that some players just don’t get paid attention to by the collective, leading to a ranking that is often too low for some guys. But this will kill some time so let’s check out some of the Wolves players.  Continue Reading…

Rubio leads the offense

On the surface, the question that is the headline of this post may seem preposterous to fans of the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Ricky Rubio is one of the best facilitators in the NBA and someone that can turn any offensive weapon into an offensive weapon with an ability to score efficiently. Team him up with Kevin Love and you’ll get a deadly pick-and-pop or pick-and-roll game. You’ll get post-entry passes on point that don’t require Love to give up precious post position. Team him up with Nikola Pekovic and you have one of the better pick-and-roll combinations in the NBA, despite Pekovic not exactly being a threat to drop the hammer down with an alley-oop dunk on the play. And again, the post-entry passes are so choice.

Run one of those fancy pick-and-rolls with Rubio as the initiator while having Chase Budinger and Kevin Martin in the corners and the defense respecting Kevin Love’s ability to stretch the floor and the bulldozer rumbling down the lane that is Nikola Pekovic and it seems like the possibilities for points are endless. Even when you throw some of the bench guys in the game with Rubio and we know Derrick Williams scores better at the rim with Rubio on the court, Dante Cunningham is a great pick-and-pop option in the midrange, and the Corey Brewer-Ricky Rubio fast breaks could be quick and deadly. There’s a lot to love with these combinations.

So what’s with the question in the headline? Continue Reading…

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As noted by Phil Ervin over at Fox Sports North (as well as Kelly Dwyer, Tom Ziller and nearly everyone else involved in covering basketball—thanks, August!), Flip Saunders was recently on KFAN 100.3 saying that Ricky Rubio needs to make shots. “Being a bigger scoring threat,” he said about the goals for Rubio’s third season, “being able to knock down shots, which will make the game much more easier for him.”

This is not news for Wolves fans, and probably not even for NBA fandom at large. What was often discussed in media row last season, though, was just how much better the Wolves really need for Rubio to be at scoring the ball, whether through shooting or finishing at the rim. After all, he would of course be a better, more useful basketball player if he could shoot the ball like Steph Curry, finish like James Harden, defend like Kawhi Leonard, block shots like Anthony Davis and celebrate like Kent Bazemore, but not every player is going to be a Swiss army knife of talents, nor should we expect or need them to be. Continue Reading…

Art by Steve McPherson

Art by Steve McPherson

The Wolves have come to an agreement with restricted free agent Nikola Pekovic on a five-year deal worth a reported $60 million.

After a long and seemingly uneventful negotiating process in which the Wolves initially waited for the market to be set by an outside suitor with an offer sheet, they finally set the market themselves by offering a reported four-year, $50 million deal which Jeff Schwartz, Pek’s agent, apparently said was no good. He secured a longer contract for his client while taking less on a per season scale with the hopes that the incentives included in the deal will push Pek’s earnings beyond the $12.5 million from the Wolves reported initial offer. It’s a gamble, but it’s also a smart one. We’ll get into that in a bit.

I think most of us are glad the Wolves retained Pek because the alternative didn’t seem great. There wasn’t much of a Plan B in terms of what to do if Pek left because I don’t really believe that was ever going to happen. They couldn’t be forced into a sign-and-trade. They couldn’t lose him if they didn’t want to. Even Pek keeping the qualifying offer and playing out next season meant the Wolves still had him and his Bird rights. It was just a matter of how much and how long.

There are concerns about the length of the deal and what it means for the Wolves moving forward. Let’s get into the things said by Flip Saunders yesterday and the realities of the deal itself.  Continue Reading…