Tag:Chris Paul
Posted on: June 4, 2011 2:44 pm
 

Finally, Ricky Rubio

     Ricky Rubio signing a contract to play with the Timberwolves next season is phenomenally good news for the fans. No other way around it. I first got word that he might have signed around 10:00 PM on Tuesday night and like the rube I am, I stayed up until almost 1:00 AM reading a number of news articles, blogs and Twitter accounts on the development. I did the same thing this morning.

     What I found, not surprisingly, is that there is a lot of negativity out there. In what should be a really positive moment for the organization and its fan base there are those who feel the need to quickly bring us all back to Earth. Most of the criticism is based around his subpar stats in Euro leagues. The individuals who speak this sort of criticism are quick to forget the ancient history that was a 17 year old Rubio going head-to-head against Chris Paul, Deron Williams and Jason Kidd in the 2008 Beijing Olympic and in many ways, outplaying them.

     If we’ve learned anything at all about the transition from Euro to NBA ball, and vice versa, it’s that the two styles of play are very different and what works in one does not necessarily work in the other. As a result, the statistics do not necessarily translate.

     First and foremost, the games are 8 minutes shorter in Europe. That alone deflates the numbers. Euro leagues also tend to play a more all-inclusive style of basketball. There is much less focus on individual stat stuffing and more of a commitment to team play. For example, everyone talks about how Rubio only averaged 3.5 assists this season. That was good enough for 11th best in the league. The leader averaged 6.2 assists. Only 3 players averaged above 5 assists. The league leader in points averaged 17.2 a game (fun fact: it was former Timberwolf, Igor Rakocevic). Him and one other guy in the whole league were the only players to average over 15 points. Compare those two tidbits to the NBA this season in which 31 players averaged 5 or more assists and 62 players averaged 15 or more points. The games are very, very different and if you simply read a box score and think that x points here equals x points there, you are sorely mistaken.

     So if in spite of all that if you can manage to overlook the previous paragraph and instead focus on some less than eye popping statistics then I suppose I can admit some skepticism is deserved. Personally, I just choose to enjoy the moment for a while before getting back to basking in the negative. Are we embattled Timberwolves fans not allowed to be excited about something for even a few minutes? Is good news a phenomena that must evade us completely? Is the thought of a star caliber player voluntarily agreeing to play in the state of Minnesota such an abomination that we must immediately degrade the potential (and sanity) of the player? If being a Wolves fan is to live in a state of gloom and disappointment, can signing Ricky Rubio not serve as a little dose of Prozac?

     I really am okay to let the haters hate and watch the money pile up, but where I will interject and argue is on the basis of expectations. A lot of the detractors are essentially saying that Rubio won’t be able to score a lot or single handedly take over games the way a LeBron or Kobe do and so he basically amounts to much ado about nothing. These individuals, I am afraid, are the victims of a poor imagination. They are looking at Rubio all wrong.  He is not LeBron or Kobe or Chris Paul or Russell Westbrook. If we’re insistent on putting a current player comparison on him I’d say he probably most resembles Jason Kidd. A plus defender, good size, floor general, elite passer, questionable jump shot, etc… Rubio also shows glimpses of being a truly transformational player in his ability to conduct an offense in an uptempo-fast break offense. In that regard, an eventual progression to a Steve Nash type is probably his best case ceiling.

     That stuff covers his skill set. If you just look at his physical projections I can see why he wouldn’t look all that different from other top prospects.  Where Rubio sets himself apart, however, is in his intangibles. If you saw the Olympics in 08, if you’ve watched any of the plethora of Rubio highlight videos on Youtube, if you’ve followed the guys career closely  and what some of the top players and coaches in the world say about him, then you know that there are things about Rubio’s game that do not translate to paper. The guy simply has a feel for the game that appears unnaturally natural, made all the more impressive when you consider he is still only 20 years olds.

     Does his jump shot need a lot of work? Yes. Will he need to add muscle mass in order to stand up to the grind of a NBA season? Without question. Could he ultimately fail to live up to expectations? Considering the expectations by many fall right around ‘franchise savior’, yes, I would say there is a decent chance he could fail to live up to some expectations.

     At the present, none of that really matters. What matters is that this is a win for the Minnesota Timberwolves. Whether it puts the team back on the right track, energizes the fan base, sells some tickets, earns the team a little more national attention, makes Minnesota more attractive to free agents, plants the seeds of a big T-Wolves following in Spain or all of the above, Rubio’s arrival is a good thing.

And now, let me leave you with some quotes about the newest Timberwolf…

"He's an amazing defender, that's one thing that stood out to me is how well he pressured the ball and disrupted our offense…He's flashy, he's crafty as well and the passes he did...were kind of amazing."Kevin Durant

"It's crazy what he's already done. I am 23 and I think of the things I've done, but he is only 17, it's crazy! He has already been in the Olympics. I've played 3 years in college and 3 years in the NBA before going to the Olympics. He will come to the NBA to steal my job." – Chris Paul

"This is my third time playing against him, and he is definitely ready to play in the NBA. The kid can play. I felt like in the Olympics he played very well and showed a lot of poise and he reads a lot of things that average players don't."Kobe Bryant

“He’s gotten bigger and he plays outstanding defense, and because he’s a pass-first guard—he’s going to be liked by everybody who plays with him.” - Mike Krzyzewski

“It was great just to test him. He’s a young player and he played great. He really runs the offense well … I think he’s ready for the NBA.”Derrick Rose

"We're very high on him. If they (Minnesota) want to give him up, we're very interested. We would do that in a heartbeat…We tried to trade up to get Rubio. But we weren't close. We would have loved to draft him” – Mark Cuban





Posted on: January 15, 2010 12:25 pm
 

Why Not Just Propose A DetailedTrade Scenario?

Minnesota - Chicago - New Orleans
*** Note, this trade works under NBA salary rules.

New Orleans
Gives: Chris Paul, Emeka Okafor, David West
Gets: Al Jefferson, Jonny Flynn, Joakim Noah, Jerome James, Mark Blount, Chicago 1st Round Pick

Chicago
Gives: Joakim Noah, Jerome James, 1st Round Pick
Gets: David West, Emeka Okafor

Minnesota
Gives: Al Jefferson, Jonny Flynn, Mark Blount
Gets: Chris Paul

 
Think about it. Dynamic.

New Orleans Rationale: 
It's all based around the rumors that New Orleans is willing to blow everything up in order to shed money. Fans and rubes won't like this in much the same way Memphis fans probably didn't like it when they gave Pau Gasol away, but sometimes the reality of the situation is not always a pleasant reality. It's important to note, this premise isn't an obscure interweb rumor, it's fairly substantiated. The organization is hemorrhaging money. In fact, they pretty much started doing so about five minutes after arriving in New Orleans. They don't want to trade Paul but realize that he would never stand for the team trading every ounce of talent around him. So the Hornets unload the ridiculous Okafor contract, which they started regretting about five minutes after offering it, and West, who is talented but overpaid and at the ripe old age of 30 probably isn’t part of the long term rebuilding plan. After this deal the only insane contract they have left is Stojakovic and they can stomach that for a year. The silver lining in all of this is that they get some really nice young pieces in return, which is a rarity in today’s salary dump deals. Al Jefferson actually makes about the same money as West. He’s an all around upgrade over West, talent-wise, and is six years younger. It gives them a dominant low post threat to build around and a signal to fans that they aren’t just quitting. Then they get two young building blocks in Jonny Flynn and Joakim Noah, two players that resemble what they are losing in a way but for a fraction of the cost. Throw in a 1st<sup> </sup>Round Pick from Chicago and two big expiring contracts in Jerome James and Mark Blount and the Hornets can’t let this one pass. 
 
New Orleans Post Trade Line Up:
PG - Jonny Flynn
SG - Peja Stojakovic
SF - James Posey
PF - Al Jefferson
C - Joakim Noah
Key Reserves: Morris Peterson, Julian Wright, Marcus Thornton

New Orleans Outcome:
Pros - Shed big contracts, cap/free agency flexibility, three talented players under the age of 25, multiple future 1<sup>st</sup> Round Picks
Cons - lose top 3 PG in league, piss off fanbase


Chicago Rationale:
The Bulls have started this season in sucky fashion after putting up one of the best playoff series in NBA history last year. They also appear to be on the brink of firing their coach (a big mistake in my opinion). They have some nice players but are clearly feeling the loss of Ben Gordon. Derrick Rose is already publicly lamenting the absence of help around him. This is all troubling because I don’t think Chicago has any interest in rebuilding, yet they don’t have the talent on hand necessary to be a top flight team in the East. So, if they could give up some promising youth in order to add a stud or two, I believe they’d do it in a heart beat. To me, Chicago is the biggest no brainer in this three-way. They give up the skilled, yet emotionally unstable center in Noah, a sizeable expiring in James and a 1st Round Pick for two players that would give them a front court that could contend with any team in the East. Sure, they add a bunch of payroll, but what does a big market like Chicago care about payroll? Plus, they keep Brad Miller’s enormous expiring.

Chicago Post Trade Line Up:
PG - Derrick Rose
SG - John Salmons
SF - Luol Deng
PF - David West
C - Emeka Okafor
Key Reserves: Kirk Hinrich, Tyrus Thomas, James Johnson

Chicago Outcome:
Pros: add two big time front court player, both of which are better than the one they give up, make a statement that they are a legit contender.
Cons: give up some cap flexibility and potential


Minnesota 
The Wolves give up a lot. They also get a lot. Al Jefferson and Jonny Flynn are two of the team’s key features. Mark Blount’s expiring contract is going to clear the space for them to land a big time free agent in the 2010 free agency bonanza. Despite those things, they still do this deal. Chris Paul is in the elite class of point guards in the league. He’s also the star that would put fans back in Target Center. They’d probably play slightly better ball this year but would ultimately be set up better for the future. They’d still have enough money to be a player in free agency because Paul’s contract is only slightly more than Flynn and Jefferson’s combined contracts. They’d still have a lottery pick in the 2010 draft in addition to a possible two additional 1st Rounders from Charlotte and Utah. On top of everything, the Rubio card remains in play. Last but not least, I tend to believe that to potential free agents the allure of playing with Paul/Love is more enticing  than Jefferson/Love

Minnesota Post Trade Line Up:
PG - Chris Paul
SG - Corey Brewer
SF - Ryan Gomes
PF - Kevin Love
C - Ryan Hollins
Key Reserves: Wayne Ellington, Ramon Sessions, Damien Wilkins

Minnesota Outcome:
Pros: add a star point guard and franchise face, sell tickets while reinvigorating fanbase
Cons: put all of eggs in one basket, so to speak, investing much of youth and flexibility they have spent years accumulating



So basically, make this happen, executives.

Do you agree?

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com