Does Rubio's injury doom the Wolves?
March, 10, 2012
By ESPN Stats & Information
Rubio was known as a closer because as the game went on, he got better. When his season came to an end, his 71 fourth-quarter assists were the most of any player in the NBA, rookie or not.
But Rubio's impact was about more than just passing. Rubio notched 12 games with at least 10 points and 10 assists, trailing only Steve Nash (18) and Deron Williams (14).
Had he finished the season with enough games to qualify, Rubio's season averages (10.6 PPG, 8.2 APG, 2.2 SPG) would have put him in exceedingly rare company. He would have joined Phil Ford, Mark Jackson and Tim Hardaway as just the fourth rookie in NBA history to reach those season thresholds.
So how will the Timberwolves fare without their star point guard?
Maybe things won't be so bad. Despite Rubio's sparkling individual numbers, he didn't transform Minnesota into a super-efficient offense.
Only 53 percent of the Timberwolves' made field goals have been assisted on, the 6th-lowest percentage in the NBA, and Rubio was turning the ball over on 22 percent of his possessions. Only Jason Kidd and Steve Nash did so at a higher percentage (minimum 250 plays).
And consider that the 21-year-old Spaniard may have been hitting the rookie wall a bit. His scoring, field-goal percentage and assists per game have dropped each month from January. His shooting numbers are most damning. Of the 122 players to shoot at least 40 times this month, Rubio's 31.0 field goal percentage is tied for fifth-worst.
Of all Timberwolves to play the last seven games, Rubio has the worst effective field goal percentage at 39.9.
Teammate Luke Ridnour entered Saturday as the starter in 39 of the team's 41 games this season and he's been giving the Timberwolves some pretty good point-guard play himself. Ridnour's scoring average of 11.4 is hovering near his career high.
Ridnour could be moved back to shooting guard again soon as Jose Juan Barea recently told the Star Tribune that he will "definitely" return next week. His assist percentage was better than his turnover percentage in eight of his last nine games before being injured on March 7.