We all have been absolutely on Cloud 9 since the Utah Jazz and Minnesota Timberwolves (what’s up Scott Layden, thank you!) traded with one another. The Wolves got cap space relief and a future 1st rounder, and the Jazz . . . well . . . the Jazz received the Wolves franchise version of John Stockton. Ricky Rubio is all over the Wolves franchise record books: tied for 5th in most seasons played, 7th in games, 6th in minutes, 20th in FGM, 10th in 3PTM, 7th in FTM, 14th in rebounds, and second only to the great Kevin Garnett in franchise assists and steals.
Give him two decades with Minny and he’s pretty much their second best player of all time, a diminutive guard standing behind a demonstrative power forward. Heck, after 6 seasons he probably is their second best player in franchise history already. So while Jazz fans are really happy, Wolves fans are losing one of their most cherished players EVER. He’s their Stockton. How would we feel if John was traded to another team in the first half of his career with Utah? We would be crushed.
I know I would be.
So to help us Jazz fans understand how special Rubio is I got some help from our bros over at Canis Hoopus, the SB Nation team site for the T-Wolves. Eric in Madison, their site manager and super guy to be in web meetings with (source: I’ve been in web meetings with him), breaks it all down here.
Things I want to tell you about Ricky Rubio:
Love him. You will love him, it’s incredibly easy. You already know he plays with a flair that ups the entertainment factor by several notches, but what will become obvious is just how much he cares. Things weren’t easy for him with the Wolves--the team was bad, and once Tom Thibodeau took over it was obvious he was not a favorite. But he never stopped working, never stopped encouraging and cajoling his teammates. Just love him. He deserves it.
He’s also a tremendous defensive player. Defending at the point guard spot is so difficult now, with the rules limiting contact and the amazing array of talent at the position. Nobody can consistently keep these guys from driving by. But Rubio makes you work. More than that, he knows where to be. He gets a lot of steals not because he’s a gambler, but because he’s incredibly smart. He reads the game. He sets opponents up. A couple of years ago, his combined steals + offensive fouls drawn was fully 2 more per game than the average point guard. That’s nuts. He was giving you two extra possessions over the average every night. Amazing.
After some games, you will realize without being able to exactly articulate that things just work better with him out there. He won’t score a ton. There will be plays that work that he doesn’t seem involved in, but in a small way--a weakside screen, a skip pass that gets the defense moving--he’ll make a difference. He’s just about always the smartest guy out there.
For six years he’s been our joy. It’s been pretty bad over those years, and I know you have had a rough stretch as well. Rubio made it, if not good (It wasn’t good), at least bearable. There were seasons when he was the difference between being somewhat competitive and being abjectly horrible.
I wish he could have tasted success with my Wolves. That he won’t is a bitter pill for me. I will still root for him though, even if I have to listen to Matt Harpring to do so.
That’s the last thing I want to tell you: Ricky Rubio gets under your skin. He makes you excited to watch him play. He makes you care even more, because of who he is. So I guess that’s a warning. But in a good way.
Ricky Rubio is not like anybody else.
Eric in Madison, 2017
Thank you Eric for this. And yes, Matt Harpring sucks. I have never seen anyone defend his work on TV. And even more true: Ricky Rubio is a point of light in an otherwise world of darkness for us small market fans. He will be cherished in Utah for as long as he is here.
Losing a player of this level, not just his skills on the court — but just everything Ricky — it really hurts. And there are a lot of Wolves fans hurting right now. But I guess we all have to deal with loss in our own ways. I feel bad to see and read the comments online. We should instead try to cherish what is, and not be worried about the future.
Some of my tweeps have the right idea:
Seriously, he fostered kittens in Minnesota after he tore his ACL. He's the best— Patrick Fenelon (@Patrick_Fenelon) July 3, 2017
Ha ha, this is amazing. Also, “Big” Al Jefferson continues to not care about game outcomes. But this is just the best:
Thanks again to Eric, Patrick, and Tim. We all already love Rubio - some of us loved him back before he was even drafted. And we will continue to love him every day.