It’s not that BallinEurope is obsessed with both Bill Simmons and Rubio-to-Minnesota, but … all right, i am obsessed with both Bill Simmons and Rubio-to-Minnesota. Still, when BiE finally got around to reading this week’s patented “Mailbag” column only to see no. 1 best-selling author The Sports Guy take an incorrect swipe at the poster boy for European basketball’s future on the international stage, well, BiE had to come to the defense of Rubio, especially since the sparring partner in this debate will never actually see this column, heh heh.
The topic was, as stated, the Minnesota Timberwolves’ future. A frustrated fan sought empathy from Simmons in a pleading email that dissected a bit of the infamous 50% season-ticket discount the Wolves are pitching which BiE had a look at last week.
Wrote Simmons reader Pete of St. Louis Park:
In his recent letter to season-ticket holders enticing us to renew or upgrade our Wolves 2010-2011 tickets for up to 50 percent off, your nemesis David Kahn gives reasons the team is heading in the right direction, including that the team has built “a coaching staff that has collected 15 championship rings.” At first I thought, “Wow, that’s impressive.” Then I started thinking: OK, I get that Kurt Rambis has four rings as a player and two as an assistant coach and that Bill Laimbeer has two as a player. But where did Dave Wohl, Reggie Theus and J.B. Bickerstaff collect seven more championship rings? Then a knot grew in my stomach as I thought, “No! He wouldn’t! He couldn’t!” I looked up the coaching bios and found that Dave Wohl was an assistant coach on a Lakers championship team, which I guess is legit. However, as best as I can tell the other six championships include Wohl’s two Ivy League titles as a player at Penn almost 40 years ago, Theus’ WAC tournament title as a coach at New Mexico State, and — yes, my worst fears were realized — Laimbeer’s three championships as coach of the WNBA Detroit Shock! Now I feel even more slimy with Kahn as my team’s GM. He makes me want to scream, William Shatner-like, “[Kaaaaaaaahn!]”
The pithy reply from The Sports Guy went, “Look on the bright side: You get to wait another two-plus years for someone shooting 30 percent in a Euro league right now.”
Dude, Simmons, come on. We know you’re trying to be sarcastic here – reduction ad absurdum and all that – in order to imply that Rubio is unproven in NBA play and perhaps overrated, but such an exaggeration might be damaging to lots (lots!) of Americans who are dead curious about the Spanish wunderkind.
The truth is that Rubio is in fact shooting 12-of-31 (38.7%) on twos and 11-of-35 (31.4%) from three-point land in 16 Euroleague games. In 25 games’ worth of ACB play, he’s 25-for-57 (42%) and 25-for-55 (47%). Altogether, that’s a shooting percentage of 41-plus percent. Adjusting his other stats (6.3 ppg, 4.7 apg) for the 48-minute NBA clock, Rubio’s line for 2009-10 would read 7.6 points and 5.7 assists per game: Hardly mind-blowing, but since current T-wolves PG Jonny Flynn is shooting 41.8%, reckon that Ricky could get his scoring up to Flynn’s 13.6 given his playing time in the same offense.
Of course, Simmons rubs the situation in for his Minnesota-backing readers by calling either ACB or Euroleague or both “some European league.” Look, these associations ain’t Chinese pro ball or spaghetti league stuff, these are the best roundball leagues in the world after the NBA, including the NCAA. Regardless of how inflated or deflated Rubio’s numbers may be, anyone who’s watched ten minutes of Brandon Jennings can see how a single season coming off the bench in “some European league” elevated his game. And Rubio’s managing the ball for one of the best non-US clubs of the past 10 years.
Finally, how could Simmons let down fans of Team USA? If he keeps talking smack about the Spaniards’ point guard, Simmons is going to jinx the 2010 edition of “Dream Team” right out of the World Championships.
BiE wonders how skeptical he’d be then. About Rubio, i mean, not about Rubio-to-Minnesota. Tough time to be a Timberwolves fan…