These are the days before the biggest days of Ricky Rubio’s heretofore wayward career. The one-time prodigy has reached a basketball roundabout at 23 years-old, and which route he takes from here could ultimately decide his hoops legacy. Will Rubio lead hometown Spain to gold at the FIBA World Cup? Will he become the new face of the Minnesota Timberwolves? And will he make good on the incredible promise he showed as a teenager by becoming a star in the NBA? It speaks to the divisive nature of Rubio’s game and his potential that multiple answers to each question seem so possible. If they’re to be responded to affirmatively, though, plays like the one he made in Spain’s exhibition against Croatia will have to become much more commonplace.
Rubio’s defensive worth has been his saving grace since he came to the states in 2011. With a shaky jumper and worse touch at the rim, Rubio’s defensive prowess – and exceedingly rare court sense, of course – has helped keep dreams of future stardom realistic. He shows off the mouth-watering two-way worth that’s all too fleeting in Minnesota below. This is the player that had the basketball world so excited at the 2008 Olympics:
That’s Rubio blocking a shot on a 2-on-1 break and finishing coast-to-coast on the other end. Only a handful of players in the world have the combination of knack, athleticism, and skill to pull-off such a sequence, and Rubio is among them.
Seriously, this is next-level stuff:
The ‘Wolves have the option to sign Rubio to an extension before October 31 and prevent him from hitting free agency after this season, but recent indications are that the sides are far apart in negotiations. There’s just little reason for Minnesota to commit to Rubio’s demands at the moment, not only given the fact that he’d be a restricted free agent next summer but also due to his topsy-turvy status as a potential franchise cornerstone. If the Timberwolves will ever find out the type of player Rubio is destined to become, it’s safe to say they’ll do so this season as he shoulders a far bigger offensive burden.
It goes without saying that Rubio will have to make major offensive strides to justify the money he’s seeking and the hopes that accompanied his draft status. What really matters is his play for Minny, obviously, but improved play during the World Cup with Spain would be a good start to the most important season of his career. And if this incredible play against Croatia is any indication, Rubio is on his way to making the most of it.
What do you think?
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