Why were the New York Knicks so intent on acquiring Minnesota Timberwolves point guard Ricky Rubio? Let’s take a look.
The New York Knicks are still looking for their point guard. Next up? Ricky Rubio of the Minnesota Timberwolves. Rubio’s boss, Tom Thibodeau, is interested in a reunion with his old Chicago Bulls running mate Derrick Rose. With rookie point guard Kris Dunn waiting in the wings Rubio is the natural casualty.
New York was all in on their most recent point guard obsession. Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical reported as recently as Thursday morning that Rubio was a “significant target” for the Knicks.
Minnesota's Ricky Rubio remains a significant target for the Knicks today, league sources tell @TheVertical.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojVerticalNBA) February 23, 2017
So, if Minnesota is willing to part with this dude then why did the Knicks want him?
Well for those of you who have never seen him play Rubio is the anti-Rose. Ricky averages 5.4 drives per game (via NBA.com) and passes on 63 percent of those attempts. Rose is one of the top ten drivers in the league with 10.3 per game and passes on just 24.8 percent of those attempts.
Rubio’s a point guard in the truest sense of the word while Rose is a score-first guard. Rubio’s a throwback who drew comparisons to Pete Maravich after being drafted out of Spain back in 2009 as a teenager. With the two-year delay before he came over to the league the hype just continued to build up. Ricky’s not a Hall of Famer, but he can still do some things.
Rubio is an exceptional defensive player. He’s finished first in the NBA in steal percentage for three of his previous five seasons. The 26-year-old is extremely aggressive and has been in the top ten in steal per game every season he’s been in the league.
Rubio has made a name for himself as a passer. He’s finished in the top ten of assist percentage and assists per game in four of his five seasons. In 2016-17, he’s 11th in assist percentage and fifth in assists per game. The dude can dish the rock.
What Knicks fans found intriguing was his rapport with Karl-Anthony Towns. Elite Sports NY’s Jeremy Fialkow pointed out the vast difference between Rubio and Rose usage towards their fellow young stars.
Over the last two seasons, Rubio has 361 assists on the whopping 2,041 passes made to Towns. KAT is shooting 51.9 percent on passes from his point guard (via NBA.com).
The current Knicks point guard has just 48 assists on the 470 passes made to KP. The Unicorn is shooting just 42.2 percent on passes from Rose (via NBA.com).
Rubio isn’t without flaw. There’s a reason that Thibs is willing to ship him out of town. Other than nepotism.
The veteran is having the worst offensive season of his career. The Wolves (22-35) have been extremely disappointing under their new head coach, and as a result, Rubio has struggled. He hasn’t always been the most prolific player on the court during his previous five seasons, but Minnesota was always better when he Rubio was out there. That hasn’t been the case under Thibs.
Basketball Reference illustrates the change perfectly.
— Basketball Reference (@bball_ref) February 23, 2017
Ironically the Timberwolves offense hasn’t been the problem this season (they’re ranked 10th in points per 100 possessions), but Rubio’s low shooting percentages haven’t helped. He’s scoring a career-low in points (8.9) while shooting a pathetic 38.6 from the field and 28.1 percent from three-point range.
Ricky may not be able to get it done from downtown, but he’s having his best season from mid-range. According to Basketball-Reference, Rubio is shooting a career-high 41.8 percent on two-point shots that are 16+ feet from the basket.
Rubio has been in the league for six seasons, and he’s proven that he’s never going to be a scorer. It’s hard to do that when you’re a point guard who can’t make threes and struggles to finish at the rim. Rubio is converting at a 49.4 percent rate in the restricted area.
Shoulda, woulda, coulda. Knicks were enamored with the thought of Rubio and Kristaps Porzingis running the fast break, who wouldn’t be? Just another Knicks dream that didn’t come to fruition.
Derrick Rose will be the point guard on Thursday when the Knicks square off with the Cavs Thursday night in Cleveland. It doesn’t matter who is running this team; they’re always searching for their next point guard fix. Rubio was the flavor of the week.