FanPost

Prowling the NBA: April 10 - Ricky Rubio's name is in ink

Let's do some forward thinking. 18 months of it. November of 2011. What will the Timberwolves look like? Talented? Athletic? Skilled? Familiar? I'm not sure if anyone really knows....even David Kahn. There might not be a single player on our current roster still on the team by then. Corey Brewer, Kevin Love, Al Jefferson, Jonny Flynn: we can say they might be here....."penciled in", as they say in the world of athletics...but they also might not.

In fact, there's really only one introduction we're pretty much guaranteed to hear from Rod Johnson in November 2011: At point guard, standing 6 foot 4, from DKV Joventut Spain, Ricky Ruuuuubiiiiiooooo

The Kid. The Phenom. The Future. The only name you can ink in.

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S-n-P made a comment the other day that I wholeheartedly agree with: the team is going all in to build for Ricky Rubio. Everything we do from now until the opening tip in 2011-2012....and probably well beyond then at that....will be to create a roster that can maximize Rubio's talents. And that's the big theme we'll cover this week.

In fact, this week's update is heavily Wolves-focused. Ricky Rubio, the possibilities of the draft, and....get this...a big reason why Corey Brewer might legitimately win the Most Improved Player Award.

So let's get started with what Rubio has been up to lately.

Regal FC Barcelona closed out their playoff series against Real Madrid 3-1:

Last time we updated this series, it was tied 1-1 after Madrid scored a major upset victory against Barcalona on their home court. Barca responded by taking the next two....84-73, then 84-78.

Game 4 highlights:

Rubio put in 19 points, 5 rebounds and 2 assists in that final game, but as a whole, he was pretty quiet this series. He averaged 9 points, 4 rebounds, and just 1.5 assists in 4 games, shooting just 35%. (For reference, his season averages are 6.8 points, 2.8 rebounds, and 4 assists) He did, however, shoot 41% from three, which is certainly something encouraging from an NBA perspective, in that he'll need to be able to hit the deep shot consistently to keep the floor balanced.

Barca's next playoff series doesn't start until May 7th (crazy Euro scheduling....) against CSKA Moscow....Andrei Kirilenko's former team, which is owned by new Nets' owner Mikhail Prokhorov.

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Moscow has a number of prominent players even without AK47, including NCAA standout Sasha Kaun (Kansas) and former NBA players Zoran Planinic (who I always thought was badly misused by the Nets), Trajan Langdon, Viktor Khryapa, and "cult" favorite Pops Mensah-Bonsu...who was, in fact, Rubio's teammate in 2008 with DKV. But more than anything, obviously, there's a distance difference. Madrid is practically in Barcelona's back yard....Moscow is a completely transcontinental flight.

Speaking of Real Madrid, I reported last week that they were preparing a big offer for Manu Ginobili this summer. But the Spurs decided they couldn't afford to lose him.

Manu Ginobili has agreed to a 3 year, $38.9 million contract extension with the Spurs:

Now, I know what a lot of you are going to say: overpaid. He's old, he's had injury problems, so forth and etc. But let's keep a couple things in mind here.

First, the Spurs have no cap space. They ate it all up trading for Richard Jefferson last year. So if they had let Ginobili walk, they'd have basically no way to replace him, and they badly need the production and "x-factor" they get from him when he's healthy.

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Second, he is still phenomenally productive when healthy. To the point that you could argue he is currently playing the best basketball of any swingman in the NBA. In the past 6 weeks he's averaged 23 points, 4 rebounds and 6 assists while shooting over 50%, and the Spurs have gone 15-7.....including wins over Cleavland, Boston, Orlando, and the Lakers....even though they've been without Tony Parker.

Plus, he's still capable of making unreal "Obi-wan Ginobili" plays at times:

I said this last week as well, but when Ginobili has his legs under him, he's as entertaining and effective a player as anyone in the NBA. I think the Spurs will find a way to move Jefferson this summer for a couple of good pieces that gets them back to the classic spread offense they've used the entire Duncan era, and Ginobili will go back to being a superior sixth man for the next few years before he retires.

During the week, Mark Jackson and Jeff Van Gundy had an interesting on-air conversation about Ginobili that will also be something that weighs heavily in on Rubio, which is...

How much does Worlds competition really take out of a player?

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The discussion was about Ginobili and Kobe Bryant, because a lot of people don't realize or forget that they're essentially the same age: Kobe's 31, Manu's 32. I think, with all the title runs and injuries Ginobili has had, people kind of get the impression he's a lot older....35 or 36 or something like that. I know I feel that Manu's significantly older than Kobe, even though he's not.

At any rate, the question came up whether Ginobili was worth resigning and for how long, and Van Gundy said something to the effect of "well, he's playing at a level that he's worth it right now, but I don't know if you'd invest that much in him long term with his age and all that." And then Jackson, of course, started to argue that with "he's in his early thirties coach, he's 31 or 32, that's the same as Kobe Bryant. If it was Kobe Bryant up for an extension then you sign Kobe Bryant. Age doesn't matter here."

"Ya but Kobe hasn't had the injury history Ginobili has. Physically, he's older than his age." And you can obviously see how the debate would go from there.

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I don't know how much FIBA play impacts the difference between Kobe and Ginobili. I mean, court time aside, Kobe first of all just has a much more solid physique. Ginobili is a lot lighter in build, a lot more wirey; it's a lot like the difference between Kevin Garnett and Tim Duncan.

That said, you certainly can't discount the physical wear of playing all season and then all summer can have, especially for a player like Ginobili who always seems to be fighting a nagging injury beyond the normal bumps and bruises.

Orlando General Manager Otis Smith made a comment this week regarding LeBron's statement he probably won't play in this summer's Worlds qualifying tournament. Dwight Howard has already confirmed he will play this summer and Smith supports him in that (and in a subtle way, demands it of him), but also added:

"I guarantee you'll get a different answer from a general manager that has an abundance of European players. They play more basketball and they never stop. When I had Turk it was hard. They never get a break. He played 7 years straight before he missed his first Turkish basketball. He gets no rest. We rested him, I think Toronto rested him this year. But your body gets no rest."

7 years....that's a long time to be playing basketball year round. For Hedo, that would have been from age 23 to 30. And for a player like Ginobili, who really carries Argentina competitively almost singlehandedly...ya, that's going to wear a player down.

In the context of Ricky Rubio, this becomes, I think, a half and half double-edged sword. On one hand, Spain is a much deeper, broader, and more talented team than Argentina...so Rubio won't be counted on as much as Ginobili to carry them in Worlds play. But on the other hand, they are a very competitive team with high expectations, so there's going to be a real demand that Rubio be a part of the Spanish Nationals team every year....meaning, like Hedo, no rest.

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It's something that's very new to the Timberwolves' fanbase. We've never had a prominent European player on the roster before, never had the deal with the politics of "well, do we tell 'x' player he can't play over the summer this year" like the Spurs have had to do every summer with Ginobili. It's unprecedented for the team, not just under David Kahn, but in franchise history as a whole.

I suppose for now we can simply be excited that this is something we have to think about in the first place. With the problems also comes potential, and I think we're all excited to see Rubio step onto the floor at the Target Center. I know I've certainly paid more attention this season not to just the ACB league, but Euro play in general, and that's been a big learning experience, something I've really enjoyed. Plus, it makes Olympics basketball a lot more interesting.

I'll admit, there were times in that Gold Medal game where I was cheering for Spain. I'm a big fan of Pau Gasol, a big fan of Rudy Fernandez, a big fan of Jorge Garbajosa (whom the Raptors most definitely should have kept) and Juan Carlos Navarro. And obviously Ricky Rubio was playing.

Anyways, back to the short list of NBA news...

The Charlotte Bobcats are headed to the playoffs:

So that makes two examples of teams that have successfully built from nothing up to postseason this month (the Thunder clinched a playoff berth last week). And is a way, the Cats are possibly a foreshadowing of how the Wolves can start turning things around.


First, they found their ideal wing player. You could maybe argue that they traded big for small (Emeka Okafor for Stephen Jackson) if you really want to stretch connecting the dots, which opens up the door of Al Jefferson for someone.

To the talk of moving Jefferson for a scoring wing player, yes, I like the idea. I think some of the names getting talked about are a little unrealistic....Rudy Gay for example, well, there's not much reason for the Grizzlies to acquire Al Jefferson when they already have Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol. But like S-n-P said, with the Grizzlies you never know. I think, in this situation, you do throw the idea of not trading big for small out the window.

But the essential point is the Cats knew they were having a hell of a time trying to score early in the year....Larry Brown even admitted publicly that the team just couldn't produce any offense....so they went and found a scorer. But more importantly, they found a scorer who fit their system. Not only can Jackson can create his own shot and shots for others, but he doesn't interfere with their other top player, Gerald Wallace, and who doesn't compromise them on defense. And yes...

Second, they play defense. And some of you are sick of hearing it, but it just cannot be stressed enough how important defense is.

The reality is we're not a terrible offensive team in terms of just sheer scoring, even with our unbalanced approach....99.7ppg since the end of November (basically over the course of the year when Love has been healthy). Had we been at that level all year, we'd be right about in the middle of the pack in total PPG....in the 16-18 range with teams like Sacramento and New Orleans. And that scoring pace has actually picked up as the year has gone on. We've, so far, averaged 100.4 ppg in March and April....and have 1 win in 18 games.

22 times this season, we've scored 100 points or more and still lost. Sometimes they've still been blowouts anyway...146 to 105 loss to Golden State. 120 to 100 loss to Sacramento. 122-104 Boston, 135-110 Memphis, 132-105 New York, 152-114 Phoenix, 122-100 Utah. And that number would probably be more than double, except that we make these furious fourth quarter runs against teams after they start coasting and send out their second or third string.

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Our defense, of the other hand, is absolutely atrocious. Second worst in the league, leading only a team that regularly starts a power forward and four guards (Golden State). We give up, on average, 107.4 ppg...a significantly higher average than even teams that play near our pace, like Phoenix and New York.

The Bobcats, by contrast, are a very weak offensive team, but a supreme defensive team. They only score 95 pgg.....28th in the league. But only give up 93.7, which is the best defense in the NBA this year. So it's a great example of how defense alone....and for the record, I'm not at all advocating we give up our offense to get there...but how defense alone can carry a team when it's set up and executed correctly by a roster built for it.

Which brings up the next point...

If the Wolves are going to get better defensively, we need a new frontcourt:

I think we all know at this point that this team needs to get a lot better on defense. By how much exactly? Well, that's open for debate. But it certainly can't be (essentially) dead last in the NBA. And I also think most of us realize that our lack of height, length, and athleticism....particularly in the frontcourt....is a major problem in regards to our defense. And I know some stats geeks like to say, "well Al and Love hold their own, it's our wings that come up short"....which is certainly true from a production standpoint....but it should be pointed out that often times Al and Love are ending up in production standstills with vastly inferior frontcourts. Playing say, Nazr Mohammed and Boris Diaw to a standstill is not an accomplishment.

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And really, we know from the start that Gomes, Brewer and Flynn aren't going to outproduce Gerald Wallace, Raymond Felton and Stephen Jackson. Shouldn't it be on the "superior" frontcourt to carry the team, then? It'd be like (to use a somewhat extreme example) the Jazz wondering why Wesley Matthews and CJ Miles didn't outproduce James Harden and Kevin Durant, rather than wondering why Carlos Boozer and Mehmet Okur didn't completely outproduce Jeff Green and Nenad Krstic. So I think it's that idea of...we know our players' strengths and weaknesses, and it's not fair...in my mind at least....to blame certain players for not being strong in an area they're not meant to be strong in, while not calling out others for not being strong in an area they are supposed to be strong in. We can't just outproduce our counterparts at every position every night, so if the frontcourt is meant to carry us, they really need to carry us. And they're not.

Also, poor defense in the paint leads to poor defense on the perimeter. And there's a lot of detailed stuff that can be debated about rotations and focus and stopping the ball, but I think the area where this shows the most isn't so much how bad paint defense teams struggle with defense in general, but how good paint defense teams have good defense in general....even with poor individual defenders on the perimeter. And we've seen that all this year...Ginobili and Parker/Hill aren't particularly great defenders, but the Spurs are a great defensive team because of Duncan. Vince Carter and Rashard Lewis aren't great defenders, but the Magic are a great defensive team because of Dwight Howard. For a long time, Paul Pierce was considered one of the worst defenders in the league...and Ray Allen certainly wasn't particularly stellar either....but then you put them out there with Kevin Garnett, and they win a title playing the league's best defense. It starts in the paint and radiates out.

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In a future sense of who could be on the roster....if we do have the good fortune to land Evan Turner, we could field a perimeter lineup of Turner, Rubio and Corey Brewer. Which has the potential to be the best perimeter defensive trio in the NBA in my mind. But you have to have an anchor...whether that be Darko or whoever...and pair him with someone who will be at least competent on defense in the frontcourt. And that's not Al or Love.

Brewer ultimately summed it up after the Golden State game, saying, "We have to change a whole lot about the way we play defense. Last few games, we haven't played any good defense. For us to win, we have to get stops, and we didn't get any. We scored a hundred points, but with no stops, you lose."

Anyway, since we mentioned Golden State, we should point out....

Don Nelson set the new record for most wins in NBA coaching history:

Against the Timberwolves of course. On a night where the Warriors only dressed 9 players, and only played 8.

Uhhhmm....I don't particularly like Don Nelson. I think he's stubbornly held on to a system that has proven not to be viable for a championship, and that his dealings with his players and bosses can be pretty underhanded at times. But 1,333 career coaching wins is a hell of a thing. Really, the only coach who has any shot at catching him in the near future now is Jerry Sloan, and that's pretty dependent on his health. So certainly we should all acknowledge what is really an incredible historic accomplishment.

And on a more sour note, this week....

The Oklahoma City Thunder got robbed of a win:

It's not the most dignified way to say it, no, but what else can you say?

It's a foul. It's clear as day, even at game speed. CJ Miles hits Durant halfway through his release practically on his elbow. And even though the NBA showed remarkable candor by outright admitting the officiating mistake, the Thunder still take a loss in the standings...and when the #2 and #8 seeds are separated by less than 5 games....that's a big deal. The Thunder are fortunate that they're already guaranteed a playoff berth....you'd hate to see a missed call like this drop a team out of the playoffs entirely.

Now, one team with a big problem that is fighting for their playoff lives still...

Chris Bosh has a broken face:

Bosh suffered a facial fracture from an inadvertent elbow he took from Antawn Jamison, and will miss at least the rest of the season, and a good deal of the playoffs as well.....provided the Raptors make the playoffs in the first place.

It's just a really unfortunate play for Bosh....Jamison caught him reaching for a pass that wasn't even meant for him, the ball was going to Anthony Parker in the corner. But the Raptors now find themselves in an incredibly difficult situation, tied for the 8th seed with Chicago in the standings, and without their best player.

Next up, I want to focus on Bosh's 03 classmate, Darko Milicic, in the sense that....

Darko Milicic is an ideal player to have on the floor with Rubio:

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So yes, the possibility of resigning Darko is out there....and I'm not going to put a price tag on him or distill his statistics or anything like that. That's a debate for a different thread. I do think it's a big accomplishment to have even gotten to this point of him being willing to resign with us, because obviously he was very focused on going back to Europe when he first arrived. But I think it's played out now like it was meant to, when I wrote about him in the trade week update:

First, let me start by saying that I really feel that Darko and "the NBA" completely misunderstand each other. On our side, the reality is Darko isn't a bad basketball player. No, he's not up there with LeBron, Melo, Bosh or Wade. But he's not terrible. In the two instances he actually got real playing time (06 in Orlando and 07 in Memphis) he averaged about 8 points, 6 rebounds, and 2 blocks in a little over 20 minutes. That's not bad. He's only 25, he's still got a ton of upside, and we have nothing to lose. So why not? It's not like losing Cardinal makes us any worse than we already are.

And on Darko's side, he's always played (except for the one year in Orlando) on a team with an agenda. The Pistons were in the title hunt while he was there, and Larry Brown never plays rookies anyway. They didn't have time to develop a young kid. Memphis is always a train wreck, the Knicks obviously have nothing but cap space and next summer on their minds. This might be the first time Darko's actually been on a team that is going to work with him. I don't know if he realizes why those other teams didn't give him a fair chance. So hopefully he gives this a shot and we can see what he can do.

I think he gets frustrated being labeled a "defense only" player, and he said something to that effect when it became clear the Knicks weren't going to play him. I think he has unrealistic expectations set on him, with where he was drafted and the fact he was 17 and barely spoke English at the time. I think he doesn't understand why the teams he's been on haven't given him a fair chance, and conversely, I think fans misunderstand that situation as well.

So i think his change of heart from "definitely going back to Europe" to "willing to stay with the Wolves" is just a natural reaction being on a team....really for the first time in his NBA career.....that is invested in him and has given him a real chance.

In terms of what this team could look like with Ricky Rubio, Darko is, I think, about as ideal a big man as you can find. Because he's skilled....incredibly so, all things considered. He can post up and score pretty well. He can rebound....not tremendously, but he's solid (and getting better as his conditioning and feel for the team improves). And he can move the ball remarkably well....which is a big key to the Triangle offense, and to the kind of open floor team Rubio will flourish in. Darko will make passes that make me double take sometimes....y'know was that Kevin Garnett? Was that Chris Webber? Was that Pau Gasol?.....that kind of level. And if we build the offense to sort of match the kind of offense the Lakers play or the Mavericks play, or Barca plays, where it's almost like pinball on some plays, having a big man that can move the ball intelligently will be a tremendous asset.

But more than anything, Darko is just remarkably well rounded. He doesn't excel in anything, at least not statistically, but he can do just about everything except hit free throws...which is very similar to a lot of the big men Rubio is used to playing with.

If I were the coaching staff....and I realize this is not realistic this year with only 3 games left in the season....but give Darko the same....whatever....the team gave Brewer to get him to try and dunk everything. It's one of those things....and I think S-n-P mentioned in the Lakers wrap up thread how the LA announcers wanted Darko to be more aggressive...he doesn't have great elevation, but he can get off the ground, he has freakishly long arms, and it's just something that will up his aggression, up his confidence, and more than anything I feel that what Darko lacks is just the mentality to attack. If someone can get him into attack mode, he can be a real force out there.

But in the broad sense, he fits the offense, he improves the defense, he can cover a lot of bases just from the post alone, and he'll probably provide Rubio with some familiarity on the court if he's still here. And I think, at some point during Rubio's Wolf career, we're going to conclude we need a multi-faceted big man like Darko on the team. A lot of teams really struggle to get their big men to pass the ball, struggle to get their big men to post up, struggle to get their big men to focus on defense....and here we have one that does it all naturally. Right?

While you think that over, let's highlight something that well....I don't think any of us would have seen coming.

Corey Brewer's MIP campaign made the front page of ESPN:

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The Wolves launched a pretty aggressive Corey Brewer MIP thing a week ago, and truth be told, there is some real merit to it. John Hollinger wrote that Brewer might be the most improved shooter in NBA history. Well, ok, that's something. That's not just the team pushing a bias....there's really something here.

But more than any statistical evidence or the like, this feature on ESPN gives Brewer's chances a major push. The MIP award is a media voted award. The media's not doing in depth statistical analysis, it's not computing per 36 or PER or Win Shares....it's looking at the change in base numbers and what it sees on TV. So to have this Brewer MIP thing on the world's premier sports site, backed by the world's premier sports writers....where everyone is going to see it....that's a big deal.

And certainly it helps that Brewer has an unintentional inside track. He worked over the summer with ESPN analyst David Thorpe, who is about as big a Brewer fan as you'll ever find (he said something like "he's so good on defense he even taught me a few things" earlier in the year) And Thorpe did a big QA session on Brewer that Sonia put up in one of the updates last week, and now Henry Abbot did a big QA with Brewer himself for ESPN's front page? This thing's got momentum.

I'll post here the more relevant parts of the interview, where Corey talks about, really, a lot of stuff we've been wondering about.

You played for one of the best college teams ever. Then you came to the NBA, where you have had setbacks and challenges, including lots of losing, and a major injury. What was that like?
"It was tough. I was happy when I first got drafted, but then I got here and Kevin Garnett got traded. I had a bad year. I played terribly. I was going from playing up and down to standing in the corner. I struggled.

"The next year we changed things again. We got some players like Mike Miller and Kevin Love. But I only played [20] games, and then I got hurt. So basically, I did a lot of rehab. Then last summer I went and worked out with David Thorpe, and I worked out here with [Timberwolves assistant coach] J.B. Bickerstaff, worked on my jump shot and my game. I just had my mind made up to have a good year, and that was my best year by far, after two bad years."

You mentioned standing in the corner on offense. When you first got to the NBA, I don't think anybody thought you'd be suited for that. But now you're an elite 3-point shooter. How'd that happen?
"You've got to work on your weaknesses. And that was my biggest weakness. If you're going to play in the NBA you have to at least be able to hit a standstill 3. I worked my butt off, and it paid off this year."

What are you doing differently?
"I got a lot more shots up than last year. Mechanical-wise, it's all about my balance, but I think a big thing is confidence. If you have your confidence, you can go a long way."

Watching on TV, it's clear that, like those other Florida guys -- Joakim Noah and Al Horford -- you play hard all the time.
"You said it -- that's how we played in college. No matter what, you go 100 miles an hour. That's another thing that hurt me when I first got here. We played slow, and you can't do that when you're playing a 100 miles an hour. It was kind of hard. I just always felt like you have to play hard to the end no matter what. If you want to win, you play hard. Playing hard sometimes out-wills talent."

Remember last year when McHale was talking about how Brewer had just started to slow down and see the game at the right speed?

Are there any defensive performances that stand out from this season?
"I don't know. When you're losing, it's hard to get too excited about your defense. I get so mad at losing. When we lose, even if I have a great defensive performance, I just try to block it out."

I would go one step further on that and say, when you lose, it's hard for anyone to even see you had a great defensive performance, even if you did....

Who's your least favorite player to guard?
"That would be Carmelo. He's all about going to that block. He's going to be there all night."

You set a team-record by hitting a 3 in 33 straight games. At what point did you become aware of that, and were you doing anything special?
"No one thought that would ever happen two years ago. I wasn't aware of it until we got to like 25 and everybody started talking about it. I was just playing. I just felt like my game was finally coming together. Everything was just flowing. My defense. My offense ... that was probably my best [stretch]."

When David Kahn took over the team, he said he wanted to lead the league in player development. If you're a strong candidate for Most Improved Player, I guess you're the poster child for that kind of development.
"I guess you could say that. They do a good job around here. A lot of individual work. A lot of coach's time. Development is going to be a big part of this. And we've got a bunch of young guys coming in next year, too, with all them draft picks. It's going to take a few years to come together."

What was the low point?
"Probably last year when I got hurt. My rookie year, I couldn't throw it in the ocean. I was shooting about 20 percent my first few months. I was real down. Last year when I got hurt, it was even worse. I felt like I was finally playing defense. I came up with a good game or two. Then I got hurt.

"It's a big leap to now. A lot of confidence now. People thought I might be a huge bust. Now we're talking about the Most Improved Player."

In general, you're feeling optimistic about the Wolves?
"Yeah, I'm feeling optimistic. I hope I'll be here. I've been here for the lows. I hope I'll still be here for the highs."

Brewer's been my favorite player this year, and certainly his progression individually has been remarkable. I think his defensive ability gets hidden by how poor the team is defensively, which actually happens a lot with perimeter players. I think his efficiency will get much better when we have a real scoring wing to take shooting pressure off of him. And I think he executes the offense better than anyone on the team, I really believe that. He's an incredibly smart player...he just needs to focus his enthusiasm and play on a team where he can concentrate on his natural role, rather than be asked to so all these things he's not really meant to do as a player.

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Certainly I think picking up his option has turned out to be a great decision. I have no doubt whatsoever now that a contending team would have signed him away from us this summer if we hadn't done that. I think he's one of those players that you can put out there with just about any competitive lineup in any system and he'll be fantastically productive just filling in the gaps, and in that sense he's a great player to have on your team.

Anyway, I'm not going to do a draft watch this week, because college play is over and everyone's kind of stuck in that no-man's-land between the end of the season and doing hardcore draft homework. But there is one college thing that really applies to the team in the Rubio perspective to note, which is...

Derrick Favors has declared for this year's draft:

I've gotten the sense over the last...I'd say 3 or 4 weeks, that Wolves fans have really been warming up to Favors. And maybe that's off base, but that's kind of what it's seemed like lately.

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When you think of the team in terms of building for Rubio to play here....which is how I've thought of it all year....there's are definitely a lot of reasons why we'd want to draft Favors. He's athletic. He runs the floor. He has a lot of defensive potential. Finding athletic big men who can score, and at least not be liabilities in the other areas is a hard thing. There's not many out there. And I went over this in detail a couple weeks ago, but basically...when you have a motion point guard like Rubio....you need a big man that can run the floor, catch in motion, and finish with authority....or you're really wasting a lot of that point guard's talent.

Euroleague.net put up a top 5 Rubio video that really highlights...well, what our team is missing in terms of what he needs to flourish.

His best plays are those kind, where everyone's moving and he can use his court vision to see how that motion will lead to a basket before the defense figures it out.

You look at play 4....it's a straight, halfcourt set allyoop. Maybe one of the most basic plays (Shaq used to make a killing off that play) and yet we have literally no one who can finish that oop right now. Darko might if you can get him to look for it. You'd have to give Corey a real running start. Hollins can get the flat elevation for it, but who knows if he'll actually catch the ball. I mean, that's a play out of the Rubio playbook we just really can't run right now, and it's going to be a shame if it stays that way.

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Certainly I wouldn't draft Favors at the expense of Wall or Turner. But if you can't get either of them...or if you can get a second pick in the top 3 somehow....then I think Favors really has to be the guy you take there. There's a lot of potential in all areas for a Favors/Milicic duo in particular if you can develop them both. It'd be a lot like Gasol and Bynum, with Darko playing the super-skilled glue game, and Favors playing the straightforward, attack the basket game. I definitely agree with S-n-P in that "This is about getting Rubio some running/ally-oop partners at this point"...which I think should be high on the agenda...and Favors is really the best option out there for it right now. He can be that player, and also has potential to be great in a lot of other areas as well.

Also....as a side note....the top play in that Rubio video is really one half hilarious, one half brilliant. It's a pick and role that Rubio turns into like....a football moving screen play by pulling a Dwyane Wade, splitting the double team, and ending up on the same side of the defense as his roll man. I dunno....it's just one of those things that stands out to me.

The other little college note to make this week really doesn't have any analytical value, but I think is worth posting anyway...

Evan Turner can do a 360 dunk:

And it's not Vince Carter or anything....he's not moving fast or jumping high. But it's still a notch above what I had put his athletic level at in my mind, which kind of surprised me.

So how do you think Rubio will be introduced?

From DVK Joventut? From FC Barcelona? From DKV by way of Barcelona? I guess I had never thought about it until I settled on this week's theme. Someone should ask the Spurs' blog if Tony Parker gets introduced as "from Paris Basket Racers". Or do they say "from Paris-Levallois Basket" now? I mean, the Racers technically don't even exist anymore...

Tony_parkerronny_turiaf_france_medium

Details details. I suppose, ultimately, as long as Rubio is being introduced as our starting point guard, we won't really care where Rod says he's from, right?

So until next week....and November 2011....

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