Stats & Info: Ricky Rubio

New Year's Resolutions in the NBA

December, 31, 2013
With December 31 upon us, here are some examples of stat-based New Year’s resolutions that might be on the minds of players and teams around the NBA:

Heat: Defend corner 3-pt FG
Opponents are shooting 47.1 percent on corner three-pointers against the Miami Heat, the highest percentage in the NBA this season.

Last season the Heat allowed opposing players to shoot 34.1 percent on such shots, the second-lowest percentage in the league.

LeBron James: Post up more
James is shooting 61 percent on post up plays this season, compared with 48 percent last season.

That is more than five percentage points higher than the next closest player on such plays this season (minimum 50 plays) (Brook Lopez – 56 percent). James has been in the post on 16 percent of his plays this season.

Trail Blazers: Defend the paint
The Portland Trail Blazers have allowed the most paint points per game in the NBA this season (49.2). They were outscored 68-32 in the paint in Monday’s loss to the Pelicans.

Knicks: Get healthy at point guard
The New York Knicks starting point guards are averaging a league-low 7.4 points per game this season, and 3.8 assists per game, tied for the second-fewest in the NBA. Raymond Felton has missed nine of the Knicks last 10 games and Pablo Prigioni has missed six straight.

Nets: Play better D and make a 4th-quarter comeback
The Brooklyn Nets have the fourth-worst defensive efficiency in the NBA this season (106.2 points per 100 possessions). They are 0-19 when tied or trailing entering the fourth quarter this season.

Pistons: Finish games
The Detroit Pistons have been outscored by 105 points in the fourth quarter this season, the worst score differential in the NBA. They have lost three games this season after entering the fourth quarter with a double-digit lead, and that doesn’t include a loss when leading by nine entering the fourth against the Wizards Monday.

Ricky Rubio: Improve his shot
Rubio is shooting 34.4 percent from the field, on pace to be the worst field goal percentage in the three-point era (since 1979-80) (Kemba Walker, 36.6 in 2011-12).

Russell Westbrook: Get healthy and regain explosiveness
Westbrook is shooting 30.9 percent on drives to the basket in the half court this season, the worst percentage in the league (minimum 100 drives) according to player tracking on

What stat are you looking for your team to improve in 2014 (besides wins!). Share your thoughts in the comments.

Spurs, Timberwolves going international

December, 4, 2013

AP Photo/Eric GayTim Duncan has been one of the most successful international players in NBA history.
Wednesday night, the San Antonio Spurs and Minnesota Timberwolves will meet in Mexico City. It will be just the second NBA regular-season game played in Mexico City. However, when you include exhibitions, this will be the NBA’s 21st game in Mexico overall.

The other regular-season NBA game in Mexico was Dec. 6, 1997, a 108-106 victory for the Houston Rockets over the Dallas Mavericks. In that game, Michael Finley led all players with 35 points in a loss, while Charles Barkley had 19 points and 17 rebounds to lead the Rockets.

It’s fitting that the NBA is expanding to play more games outside the United States and Canada, as the NBA is growing more international league-wide.

According to the NBA, there were a record-breaking 92 international players from 39 countries and territories represented on opening-night rosters. Wednesday’s matchup will be between two of the most international teams in the NBA.

The Spurs have 10 international players on their roster, the most such players ever on an NBA roster. Minnesota has seven, the second-most by any team.

Let’s take a look at two of the premier international players who will be facing off in this game.

Tim Duncan
Although Duncan enters Wednesday’s game averaging career lows in scoring, rebounding and field goal percentage this season, his accolades over the course of his 17-year NBA career are exceptional.

His 23,994 career points are the second-most by an active player born outside the United States, trailing only Dirk Nowitzki. His teammate, Tony Parker, sits fifth on that list.

With six points tonight, Duncan would also become the ninth player in NBA history with at least 24,000 points and 13,000 rebounds in their career. Of the other eight, all six who are eligible are in the Hall of Fame (Shaquille O’Neal is not yet eligible, Kevin Garnett is still active).

Ricky Rubio
Although Kevin Love and Kevin Martin have handled the bulk of the scoring for the Timberwolves this season, Ricky Rubio has shown his effectiveness, especially with Love on the floor.

Ricky Rubio
This season, in 574 minutes with both Rubio and Love on the floor, Minnesota is outscoring its opponents by 12 points per 48 minutes. The team as a whole is outscoring its opponents by four points per 48 minutes on the season.

The combination is especially effective on the offensive end, as the team averages 110.2 points per 100 possessions when the two are on the floor together, the most of any two-man combo on the team among those who have played at least 200 minutes together. To put it in context, the Rockets lead the NBA as a team with 109.5 points per 100 possessions this season.

Rubio keys: Move the ball, improve the 'd'

December, 15, 2012
Dazzling point guard Ricky Rubio has been cleared to play and is expected to play Saturday against the Dallas Mavericks for the first time since suffering a torn ACL late last season.

Last season Minnesota was 21-20 before Rubio was injured, and finished the season losing 20 of its final 25 games after he left the lineup.

In case you need a refresher, let’s remind you of his value to the Timberwolves and look ahead to where he can improve his game.

Looking back to 2011-12
You probably recall that the key aspect Rubio brings to the Timberwolves is his tremendous court vision and passing.

The main replacement for Rubio, Luke Ridnour, has played admirably this year – but hasn’t had quite the same impact as Rubio on defense or as a playmaker.

Ridnour has reached double-digit assists once in the first 20 games this season; Rubio did it nine times in his first 20 NBA games last year.

Since the 1999-00 season, only John Wall (8.3 APG) averaged more assists in a rookie season than Rubio. Last season Rubio became just the fourth rookie in NBA history to average at least 10 points, eight assists and two steals per game.

That performance led to him finishing second for rookie of the year behind Kyrie Irving.

Rubio had an assist percentage of 38 percent, which was second-highest among rookies in the past 10 seasons, trailing only Wall (assist percentage measures the percentage of teammate field goals a player assisted while on the floor).

When Rubio came over from Spain there were concerns about his defense but he was able to ease those worries.

His long arms and better-than-expected athleticism helped him be a pretty good defender.

Last season, when Rubio was on the court Minnesota gave up just 99.6 points per 100 possessions. When Rubio was on the bench and then hurt, the Timberwolves allowed 106.8 points per 100 possessions.

Looking ahead to 2012-13
Rubio’s next step in growing as a player will be increasing his efficiency from the field.

Last season he shot nearly 36 percent from the field and 34 percent on 3-pointers. His effective field goal percentage was just shy of 40 percent, worst on the team.

Rubio endured a 10-for-46 stretch in the seven games prior to the season-ending game in which he got hurt against the Los Angeles Lakers.

Rubio is aware of how much of a weakness this is and has worked diligently with assistant coach Terry Porter to improve during his recovery from injury.

He’ll get his first chance against the Dallas Mavericks, whom the Timberwolves beat twice in three meetings with a healthy Rubio last season.

Rubio was just 10-for-32 from the field in three games against the Mavericks last year. But in the nearly 73 minutes he was on the floor in the two wins, the Timberwolves outscored the Mavericks by 28 points.

Defense in decline since Rubio's injury

April, 5, 2012
Ever since point guard Ricky Rubio was lost for the season with a torn ACL on March 9, the Minnesota Timberwolves have struggled. They were 21-20 when he got hurt and are 4-11 since then, and much of the Timberwolves’ struggles are on the defensive end.
Ricky Rubio

Rubio is not the quickest player, but his length and size helped cover a lot of ground. Without Rubio -- who ranks third in the league in steals per game (2.22) -- the Timberwolves have had to rely more on smaller guards like J.J. Barea (6-0) and Luke Ridnour (6-2), both of whom rank in the bottom 40 percent in points per play allowed.

The Timberwolves are fine offensively without Rubio. In fact, they've scored two more points per 100 possessions with Rubio off the floor. Defensively they've allowed seven more points per 100 possessions without him and are allowing 11 more points per game.

Minnesota’s opponents have scored 100 or more points in nine of the last 15 games after scoring at least 100 in 17 of 41 games that Rubio played.

But how are opponents scoring so much more lately?

Without Rubio on the court this season, Minnesota’s opponents are scoring 22 percent more fast-break points, 11 percent more second-chance points and 4 percent more points in the paint.

However, with Rubio not on the court at all anymore, those numbers have been amplified even more over the last 15 games. Minnesota’s opponents are scoring 30 percent more fast-break points, 14 percent more second-chance points and 14 percent more points in the paint.

Some of those increased easy baskets -- fast breaks, second-chance points, points in the paint -- can be attributed to Nikola Pekovic missing eight of the last 15 games with an ankle injury. But more of it can be attributed to Rubio's injury; the Timberwolves have had trouble stopping opposing guards from penetrating and dishing.

Over the last 15 games, opposing guards have an assist-to-turnover ratio better than three-to-one. In the 15 games before Rubio’s injury, that ratio was less than two-to-one.

On March 12, the Phoenix Suns guards combined for 74 points, 16 assists and two turnovers. On April 2 against the Sacramento Kings, Isaiah Thomas had 17 points, five assists and no turnovers.

In Wednesday’s loss to the Golden State Warriors, guard Charles Jenkins had 19 points, seven assists and two turnovers as Golden State erased a 20-point deficit with 58 second-half points.

Not having Rubio also impacts the Timberwolves on the boards. He averaged 4.2 rebounds per game, which ranks 10th among guards.

The Timberwolves were strong playoff contenders before Rubio’s injury. Now, they're in last place in the Northwest Division, five games out of the playoffs with 10 games left to play.

Rubio breaks down Sixers defense

February, 20, 2012

US Presswire
Ricky Rubio was able to find a variety of ways to score against the NBA's top-ranked defense Sunday.

The Philadelphia 76ers are the best defensive team in the NBA this season, but fell short of that distinction against Ricky Rubio and the Minnesota Timberwolves on Sunday.

Rubio scored a career-high 22 points on 7-of-17 shooting from the field, including 2-of-4 on 3-point attempts. He added five assists with only one turnover.

Rubio scored in a variety of ways on Sunday -- long jumpers (eight points), mid-range jumpers (four points), off the ball (eight points), pick-and-roll plays (eight points), and drives to the basket (eight points).

The 76ers are allowing the fewest points per play in the league this season. One of their biggest strengths on the defensive end is defending pick-and-rolls including passes, where they also rank better than all other teams in points per play allowed.

But on Sunday, Rubio shot 4-of-6 for eight points with one assist and no turnovers on seven pick-and-roll plays.

Both of Rubio's spot-up 3-pointers also came in pick-and-roll situations. Both plays came when Luke Ridnour came off a pick-and-roll on the right wing and threw a skip pass to an open Rubio on the left wing.

Jrue Holiday had trouble stopping Rubio, who scored 18 of his 22 points and dished out four assists with one turnover against the 76ers point guard.

Holiday particularly had trouble defending Rubio on pick-and-roll plays, where Rubio shot 4-of-5 for eight points and dished out four assists with only one turnover on six plays when being defended by Holiday. Such a defensive performance is atypical for Holiday -- only Raymond Felton ranks better this season at defending pick-and-roll ball-handlers among those with at least 150 plays.

Rubio displayed his offensive versatility while matched up with Holiday with 3:51 left in the fourth quarter, when Rubio came off a pick-and-roll and knocked down a 16-foot jumper to give Minnesota an 88-87 lead. That jump shot helped lead the Timberwolves to their third straight victory.

Rubio's performance against the 76ers Sunday was one of his most complete performances of the season. It's the fifth time he has had at least 10 points, five rebounds and five assists, and the Timberwolves have won all five of those games.

Among players with at least 150 plays this season, Rubio ranks 222nd out of 251 players in points per play. There is certainly plenty of room for improvement in that regard.

If his offensive scoring output continues to improve, he will be even more of an all-around threat. Over the last two games, Rubio has 40 points, 13 field goals and four 3-pointers -- the most he's had in any two-game stretch.