Ricky Rubio is for real, and the Minnesota Timberwolves finally have a future to be excited about. It’s not just knowing they got Kevin Love, Derrick Williams and Rubio for (hopefully) a few more years, but they got their first win of the 2011-2012, beating the slumping champions, the Dallas Mavericks, 99-82.
It wasn’t just Minnestoa’s first victory this season. It was their first win after 18 straight losses, stretching way way back into the Spring of 2011, before the NBA lockout. They’re still only 1-3 to start the season, slightly better than the 1-4 Mavs, but there’s plenty to smile about if you’re a Timberwolves fan or sympathizer.
Derrick Williams had his weakest outing as a pro, scoring only 4 points in 16 minutes, but he did grab seven rebounds and added 3 steals. Kevin Love put up the numbers, and the big shots, as the Mavs made noises of trying to hang on. Besides his 25 points an 17 rebounds, something rather expected from the fourth year Power Forward, he also shot 5-6 from beyond the arc. This made him the only player in NBA history with three games of at least 25 points, 15 rebounds and 5 tres.
The Mavs, as with each and every one of their losses, struggled with the rebounds. They lost 35-54 in the boards battle and shot an abysmal 37.7% from the field. The offense is slow, predictable and based on the fact that Dirk Nowitzki will do it on his own. Well, despite his 21 points, it’s not happening. Lamar Odom finished with 7. Vince Carter with 6. No lift off for Dallas so far, who might soon come to the painful conclusion that there were some mistakes made in the building of this team.
If you’re a Wolves fan, nothing makes you happier than watching Rubio when he plays. Ridnour is a decent point guard, who finished with 11 points, but he doesn’t run the offense nearly as well as the Spanish rookie. It’s easy to forget, but despite his age (21), Rubio has been a starting point guard at a professional level since the age of 15, playing in the Olympic games when he was only 17. The guy came ready.
He’s averaging 7.3 assists so far in less than 28 minutes a night. He can improve his assist-turnover ratio (2.4 right now), but he’s defending well, shooting well and above all, making the right choices, be it shot selection or pass selection. You usually expect a rookie to make more mistakes, but Rubio looks like a point guard ready to lead. Lets begin with making him a starter, and see from there.
Another example of youth and athleticism embarrassed the Mavericks. The known lines of “figuring it out” or “give it time” are well rehearsed, but when you use them a bit too much, you better start looking for different reasons.