Rubio Has Cleared Physical, Mental Hurdles From ACL Injury


VIDEO: Ricky Rubio’s no-look reverse bounce pass to Kevin Love is the assist of the night

DALLAS – Ricky Rubio is in his third NBA season. Yet in terms of games played, he’s not even a season-and-a-half into his expectation-laden career.

In a 112-106 win over the Dallas Mavericks on Saturday night, Rubio played in his 116th career game since joining the Minnesota Timberwolves in 2011 from his native Spain. His rookie season was first shortened by the lockout and then short-circuited by an ACL tear in his left knee. His recovery delayed his debut last season until Dec. 15, and it would take several more months to gain back the trust in his knee with the long and ugly scar that is ever so remindful of the agony he endured.

Now Rubio is back, all the way back. The doubts and fears certainly still creep into his thoughts now and then, but the magical point guard has figured out how to at least make the emotional scars disappear.

“It’s a big injury and you always think about it even if you don’t want to,” Rubio said after scoring 12 points with seven assists in a desperately needed road win. “I think I have to forget it already and just feel confident out there playing hard, going and running 100 percent. So I feel good.”

He looked good, too, with a beautiful baseline drive for his only two points of the fourth quarter to give the Timberwolves a 98-92 lead with 4:35 to go. He was at his creative best a couple minutes later in a late shot-clock situation. Working at the top of the arc, Rubio beat his defender, Monta Ellis, and as he got deeper into the lane, Rubio made a no-look, behind-the-back pass that split Ellis and the helping Dirk Nowitzki to Kevin Love. Love got off the 3-pointer just before the buzzer for a 106-96 lead with 1:55 to play.

“I saw Dirk was behind me and I was afraid of a blocked shot,” Rubio said. “I knew he was there. I got kind of lucky and he [Love] made it and it was a huge play.”

Still, there is work to be done for the 23-year-old Spaniard. He is averaging 33.1 mpg, very close to the per-game average during the 41 games of his rookie season. Also, however, nearly identical to his rookie mark is his field-goal percentage. Rubio is shooting just 35.8 percent from the floor, but the encouraging news is his 38.2-percent accuracy from beyond the arc, easily a career best.

He was just 1-for-5 from back there against Dallas, but it was a big one, putting Minnesota back in front, 69-68 in the third quarter as the Mavs had just taken the lead with a 27-14 run.

“I feel confident,” Rubio said of his shot following a 4-for-12 night. “I’m practicing in that area. I know I have to improve, I feel like I have to improve in all the areas. I just keep working hard and trusting myself.”

Coach Rick Adelman continues to preach patience, a quality that can unfairly be in short supply when Rubio’s young career is not looked through the proper lens of his early misfortune.

“He’s still playing as hard as he did before [the injury], he competes all the time, so I think that’s passed,” Adelman said of Rubio playing through mental barriers of the recovery process as he did for most of last season. “It’s just he needs experience. He’s a young player. He’s only played, combine both years, maybe one season — and half of that he was hurt. So he’s just very young.”

18 Comments

  1. buburra says:

    the base here in Europe are not as physical and aggressive in the ring. I think he is improving fast these aspects, considering it has been playing all his life in a much more technical way that physical.

  2. boss says:

    Rubio needs to join heat!

    PG; Bron
    SG: Allen
    SF: Wade
    PF: Rubio
    C: Bosh

    6th man: Chalmers
    Strongrezerve: Norris Cole, The Guy with tattoos, Battier, Alonzo Mourning, James Jones

  3. T. Taylor says:

    Minnesota is better than the 9-9 record. I’m sorry to say this but they need a better coach. Rick Adelman is decent but they need a fresh, playoff minded face.

    • wagedu says:

      I agree 200%. Adelman always makes the exact same rotations at the exact same minutes, no matter the score. Also, there’s no bench – Barea is a headless chicken.

      • kellogs says:

        yeah if we need dante cunningham to become more consistent and to develop gorgui deng, robbie hummel, aj price and shabazz..

    • Bigmatta23 says:

      you seriously have no clue…

      • wagedu says:

        No clue? What do you mean by that?
        a) Adelman uses many players/great rotations (which leads to…)
        b) Adelman’s teams usually have deep benches
        c) Barea is: a scorer, a powerful PG or, at least, a good game director
        I guess you’re the clueless one.
        Did you watch the game?

  4. samsam says:

    This tells that Rubio is not a Franchise Player but a better one than DRose.

  5. spanishdreadlocks says:

    Rubio is magic. He needs to shot more often so that he can find more shooting consistence. He must be more agressive from beyong the arc and atacking the rim from the begginig.
    Show them who we are, man.

    Let´s go wolves

  6. JeSuns says:

    He can play way better than now… “all the way back”, he has to be more agressive, then he’ll be the best

  7. khmer379 says:

    He the real definition of a true point guard

  8. okc2014 says:

    Ricky Rubio, Kevin Love and the Minnesota Timberwolves are looking pretty good. Them getting Martin from OKC was an excellent decision. Even though I miss him as an OKC fan, like Harden, him being a starter has only enhanced his potential greatness. I love watching their (and Houston) games. And root for them….As long as they aren’t playing OKC.