Rubio shoots poorly, but passes and defends well at FIBA World Cup


Ricky Rubio's FIBA World Cup run went exactly as his NBA career has gone so far: Great passing, great defense, awful shooting.

Here are his overall stats after Spain was upset by France this week 65-52:

  • 7 games played
  • 10/31 field goals
  • 0/5 3-point shooting
  • 18/24 free throws
  • 31 rebounds
  • 36 assists
  • 15 turnovers
  • 25 steals

That's 32 percent shooting from the field – worse than his NBA mark of 36.8 percent shooting, but against teams such as Iran, Egypt and Senegal.

But Canis Hoopus says not to put too much stock into it.

Despite what the author describes as justifiable concern over his shooting ability, the piece (which was written prior to Spain's loss to France) argues Rubio doesn't take enough shots per game (an average of 4.4 after the France loss) to make it a reliable sample size. And the Spain team simply doesn't ask Rubio to score, with talents like Marc and Pau Gasol, Juan Carlos Navarro and Rudy Fernandez on the squad.

His steals, meanwhile, are significantly better than anyone else in the tournament. He's averaging 3.6 per game, well ahead of the No. 2 player who gets 2.6 per game. And his final assist numbers, at 5.1 per game despite playing just 20.9 minutes each game, were third in the World Cup.

With the impact Rubio is having defensively and in the passing game, Canis Hoopus says, his impact on the tournament has been huge. His raw plus-minus of +144 was tied with Marc Gasol for second before the France game; and his numbers per 40 minutes were a staggering 11.8 assists and 7.4 steals. (That dropped to 9.9 assists and 6.8 steals after Spain's loss.)

"This coincides with my eye test: When Rubio is on the floor, the team plays at a noticeably higher tempo, with more aggressive defense leading to transition points, big runs, and in the end, blowouts. The truth is, Rubio is doing what he always does--affecting the game at both ends, disrupting opponent offenses, leading the break, finding open players off the pick and roll. ... Don't get hung up on the shooting. Ricky's ability to score in the NBA is an issue that can wait until we actually see the Wolves play this season."

FOX Sports isn't as convinced.

The site says his low shooting numbers are a symptom of a larger problem, not the lone problem. Rubio has never been asked to be a high-volume shooter, FOX Sports says, and in today' NBA – where scoring point guards dominate – Rubio will remain exactly what he is right now.

"With an upgrade in athleticism around him – Andrew Wiggins, Zach LaVine, etc. – Rubio may yet get away with being a sub-40-percent field-goal shooter. But until he figures out how to score more efficiently, his game won't evolve."

Speaking of the NBA: The new-look Timberwolves kick off training camp Sept. 30.

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