Ricky Rubio is 23 today, and has nothing to show for his NBA career


Remember the 17-year-old kid that was dominating NBA point guards at the 2008 Summer Olympics?

That's the Ricky Rubio the entire NBA fell in love with ahead of the 2009 NBA Draft.

The teenager the Wolves front office and Minnesota fans fell in love with five years ago.

The kid David Kahn felt could team with Jonny Flynn to be the next Earl "The Pearl" Monroe-Walt Frazier backcourt duo.

The youngster that Kahn was confident enough in to select over Stephen Curry, Demar Derozan, and Jrue Holiday, two of which are top 50 players in the league (Curry No. 6 according to ESPN), with the third on his way.

That 17-year-old is six years older today, and all the potential Rubio brought to Minnesota has led to few accomplishments since his arrival.

After spending the two seasons after he was drafted playing for FC Barcelona in Spain, Rubio came to Minnesota to much hype and acclaim, and he produced in his first two months as a Wolf in the shortened season of 2011-12, with an eight-seed looking more and more possible as March hit.

Then, Rubio's injury hit, a clashing of knees with Lakers' legend Kobe Bryant in the dying moments of a March 9 game at Target Center.

It was a torn ACL, and with Rubio's ACL, went the Wolves playoff chances.

He returned, too soon perhaps, just nine months later, Dec. 15 of last year against Dallas, and struggled through the month of January before putting up improved offensive numbers through February and March, finishing on a low note in the last month of a lost season.

With a full offseason behind him, including a stint with Spain in the 2013 FIBA European Championships, he returns to Minnesota for the 2013-14 season eager to win.

Is he ready to run the show for a playoff team?

We know he is undoubtedly one of the best passers in the league, proving time and time again, last night included, that he can hang with the best dime-droppers in the NBA.

His shooting, however, continues to be underwhelming, hitting at just a 36 percent clip in his career, and knocking down just 29 percent of threes last year, down five percent from the year before.

Does he need to score with the return of Kevin Love and signing of Kevin Martin? Debatable. Can he at a high clip at the moment? Probably not, just five 20-plus point games in his career.

Regardless, the big stat in any sport, is wins and losses. It's hard to ignore Minnesota's 37-61 record in games Rubio has appeared in, and 57-91 record since he came to Minnesota.

To blame Rubio for Minnesota's struggles would be a tad ridiculous considering he really hasn't been fully healthy for the majority of his NBA career, and perhaps at all since the ACL tear in March of 2012.

When Rubio has been playing recently, healthy or not, Kevin Love has been absent, playing just 18 games last year while recovering from two separate cases of a broken hand, and a knee injury that required season-ending surgery in April.

So where does blame lie? Rubio? Love? Minnesota's front office for not surrounding the two with better talent? Sheer, unadulterated bad luck?

Arguments can be made for all, while the more logical thoughts would put a mix of blame on the four.

This year, with Rubio healthy, Love returning, KMartin and Corey Brewer among a host of productive veterans joining the two cornerstones, and Nikola Pekovic back, it would seem the time to blame any of those things is over.

The team has believers, with experts seeming to think a bright 2013-14 is in store for a team that hasn't put it together and found the postseason in 10 years.

The man that will be responsible for putting it together? The floor general, the man that runs the show, the prodigy, Rubio.

It's time for him to take that step in his career of making a meaningful impact on a franchise, because he's not just a teenage kid making flashy passes anymore, he's a professional that's all grown up.

Oh, and hope this isn't too awkward, but happy birthday.

Next Up