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Breaking down Ricky Rubio

Examining five areas the Spaniard needs to focus on to reach the next level

Updated: December 20, 2012, 2:28 PM ET
By Chris Palmer | ESPN The Magazine

Ricky Rubio is a tantalizing talent brimming with potential and verve. It's just been hard to get a good look at him, as his young NBA career consists of only 43 games.

First, there was the two-year obligation to FC Barcelona after being drafted with the fifth pick in 2009. Then the lockout took a significant chunk of time out of his rookie season and, with it, his on-court development. To make matters worse, he blew out his knee in March, ending an already shortened rookie season.

His second campaign has been equally confounding. After finally being cleared to play this month, he has appeared in just two games and is averaging 4.0 points and 6.5 assists on 14 percent shooting in 17.5 minutes per game. He has already been held out of a game due to knee soreness and will be a game-time decision for the foreseeable future.

With so much potential, mountains of expectation and precious little game time, there are a lot of questions as to what kind of player Rubio will become and how he'll get there. I've enlisted the help of Timberwolves assistant coach Terry Porter to help me break down Rubio's game, looking at what possible impact he could have on Minnesota this season and in the long term.

"When you talk about the growth of a point guard, he's got a long way to go," said Porter, a two-time All-Star point guard and former NBA head coach. "But I think he'll be right up there. He's got all the skills that you want. He'll be right up there with the best of them."

Here's a look at five areas in which Rubio will need to make his mark in order for the Spaniard to elevate his game and turn the Timberwolves into a contender:

Pick-and-roll offense

There are a lot of moving parts in a pick-and-roll, and making split-second decisions on the fly is essential in order to execute it. There are a half-dozen considerations and numerous reads a point guard must make almost instantaneously. This is where Rubio shines.

As a smart, creative offensive point guard, Rubio -- coupled with an accurate deep threat in power forward Kevin Love -- has made the pick-and-roll an effective weapon for the Wolves.

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