Three seasons ago while still in Portland covering the Trail Blazers, I caught up with then Rip City swingman Rudy Fernandez after a home game at the Rose Garden.
I can’t remember who Portland played or if they won, but I do remember Fernandez being in a media friendly mood as I worked on an upcoming NBA draft story on then 18-year-old Spanish phenom, Ricky Rubio. Knowing Rubio and Fernandez played together for DKV Joventut and the Spanish National team, he was the man to talk to.
“I don’t want to talk about Ricky….I’m tired of talking about this kid,” Fernandez said sarcastically and flashing a smile.
After exchanging a quick laugh and switching to serious mode, Fernandez openly worried for Rubio at the time. He worried about Rubio adjusting to the NBA – the defensive game, the travel, more games, faster pace and facing bigger and better guards.
"He's a very good player, but I don't know if he is prepared to play in the NBA,” Fernandez said at the time.
Fast forward to 2012 and Ricky Rubio has been well worth the long wait and is easily on his way to securing NBA Rookie of the Year honors with the Minnesota Timberwolves with each ‘Pistol’ Pete-esque pass and nightly stat lines. And on Wednesday night, Rubio was at it again.
At least according to the Elias Sports history books.
Rubio had a rare night Wednesday in NBA statistical terms, True Hoop’s Henry Abbott points out: nine points, eight assists, seven rebounds and six steals in a win over the Detroit Pistons. According to Elias, Rubio is the first player in NBA history with at least nine points, eight assists, seven rebounds and six steals in a game without reaching 10 in any of those categories.
Guess you could say Rubio -- as Abbott pointed out -- messed around and got a quadruple-single.
But should we really be surprised at what “Tricky” Rubio does anymore. Have we not yet learned to remove the blinders and see that this 21-year old kid just might make David Kahn look like a genius for drafting and patiently waiting for Rubio’s arrival.
As David Hein with FIBA.com puts it, “If it looks like Ricky Rubio is moving free as a bird on the courts of the NBA it is because the Spanish rookie is exactly that – finally free.”
On the season, Rubio is averaging 10.7 points, 4.6 rebounds, 8.3 assists and 2.3 steals in 32 minutes per game. Better yet, he’s made a smooth adjustment to the game that many –including his fellow countryman Fernandez – worried about.
He’s hitting from outside (40.7% from 3-point) and the sick passes he’s dropping for Minnesota aren’t nothing compared to what his arsenal displays (peep the footage above).
For Rubio, the best is yet to come on any given night and no one is going to be sick of talking about him.
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