HANG TIME NEW JERSEY BUREAU — News flash: Ricky Rubio can pass and Jimmer Fredette can shoot.
OK, we knew that already. But it was great to finally see the two rookie sensations in NBA uniforms on Saturday. Rubio and Fredette made their preseason debuts and both came as advertised.
Rubio came off the bench for the Wolves in their 117-96 win over the Bucks. He shot just 1-for-4 from the floor, but he grabbed six rebounds and dished out seven assists in 24 minutes. Four of those dimes created 3-pointers, but the best was an alley-oop feed to fellow rookie Derrick Williams. (By the way, that was another rookie, Darrington Hobson, who took that Williams throwdown in the cheek.)
Jerry Zgoda of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune was there at The Target Center…
After a long two-year wait, Wolves fans arrived ready to holler for Rubio, no matter what he did. A few shouted for his appearance — he watched from the bench while Luke Ridnour started — right from the game’s opening seconds.
The rest cheered whether he made plays sensational or simple.
“Yeah, they loved him,” forward Michael Beasley said. “He made bounce passes, and they were in awe.”
They serenaded Rubio with sing-song chants of “Olé, olé, olé” — like soccer fans back in his native Spain do — after he lobbed a fourth-quarter pass to fellow rookie Williams for a thunderous slam dunk.
He finished with six points, seven assists, six rebounds, two steals, one turnover and a foul in 24 minutes on a night when he easily could have reached double-digit assists if his teammates had converted more of his passes.
With a few Kings sitting out Saturday’s game at Golden State, Fredette got the start alongside Tyreke Evans and Marcus Thornton in the Kings’ 107-96 loss. He missed his first shot, but in 35 minutes, Fredette shot 7-for-11 from the field, including 4-for-6 from 3-point range.
Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee has the story from Oakland…
The Kings haven’t practiced much using Evans, Fredette, Thornton together. With the injuries, Westphal saw Saturday’s preseason game as an opportunity to look at the lineup.
“Out of our three perimeter players, we really don’t care who brings the ball up because they’re all interchangeable,” Westphal said. “That’s why we don’t get caught up in who’s the point guard, shooting guard.”
Westphal likes the idea of having Thornton and Fredette – two of his best three-point shooters – on the floor together. Westphal said he doesn’t mind Evans taking an open three pointer, either.
All three also can handle the ball and, against the Warriors, the 6-foot-6 Evans was big enough to play small forward.
There were questions about whether Fredette would be able to create his own shot in the NBA, but we have to remember that he’s surrounded by NBA talent now, and will have a lot more space to operate than he did when he was a one-man show at BYU.
Fredette’s also got a pretty quick release. He was 3-for-4 on catch-and-shoot jumpers and 4-for-6 on jumpers off the dribble.
And are we over-analyzing a single preseason game? Absolutely!