On Tuesday night, the young Minnesota Timberwolves team seemed lost and overmatched in the second quarter against the ferocious Bulls. That is, until Ricky Rubio all but took over, mounting a late-half comeback that cut the Bulls lead from 24 to just 6 at the break. Yes, it helped that the Bulls couldn't seem to buy a bucket during the last stretch of the quarter; but on the Wolves' side of things, it was the Ricky Rubio show.
"He's the rare subject of hype who turns out to be better than advertised. He's the rare NBA player who prides himself on unselfishness. He is the rare athlete who succeeds because of savvy and intelligence rather than athletic ability," declares Jim Souhan in Minnesota's Star Tribune.
Coming off the bench, Rubio finished with 13 points and 12 assists on Tuesday in a tight loss. That followed a performance on Sunday when he finished with 13 points and 14 assists, and led to another Star-Tribune writer to proclaim, "Rubio is just getting started."
Rubio's emergence should surprise no one considering how much hype there had been around this young European player over past seasons. The Wolves had to put their budding star on hold for a few seasons while they waited for him to develop more as a player. Now that he's here, he's proving why he was worth the wait.
And he's been doing it all season long, it just took until this week for the rest of us to notice. Star-Tribune writer Chip Scoggins said late last month, "More than anything, Rubio looked like he belonged. He looked comfortable on the court. He looked ready for this new challenge."
What else are people saying now?
A savior: "He is the best point guard the Wolves have had since Sam Cassell and point guard has been a bottomless pit since Cassell," said Tom Grout in the Fergus Falls Journal. "The fact that he knows how to run an offense at that position is enough of a godsend to this team. The fun part is, he is just a joy to watch and to truly watch him you can not take your eyes of him when he has the ball or you will miss something."
You want to root for him: "He's unkempt and unafraid, charismatic yet unassuming. His magnetism and passion for playing the game are trumped perhaps only by his court vision and creativity," said Ken Berger, an admitted Rubio skeptic, at CBS Sports. "My eyes were drawn to Rubio the way they've been drawn to no other primary ballhandler I've seen since Allen Iverson."
Start him: "Rubio changes the way the Wolves play. Their best lineup in terms of plus-minus includes him, and it's not close," said Royce Young at CBS Sports. "Rubio's ready for it. Why delay it? He's proven he can handle the responsibility of driving the Wolves car, he can defend well enough and is the future. It's not a question of if he'll ever start, it's just a matter of when, and how soon."
Just imagine what's going to erupt once the Wolves start winning some games.