The offseason is an exciting period. The NBA draft, free agency, and Summer League consume much of our time. It's a time to focus on the new additions to teams, and how that will impact team success. It often also means that we don't spend much time talking about the maturation process of young players.
Enter: Ricky Rubio.
Fans know of Ricky's prowess and skills. They know that his passing games is second-to-none, his defense is underrated, and his shooting away from the basket needs improvement. His comeback from ACL surgery was a long process, but he looked to be back near top form by the end of the season, making a roster depleted with injury watchable.
What we don't know, however, is what his ceiling is. I think that we'll start to get a clearer idea of that this year.
Year three typically is the year that players make "the jump", which is loosely defined as the leap from solid role player to team leader/superstar. Not only does the pace of the game slow down from a thought processing perspective, but young bodies have finally had time to mature, both naturally and because of highly skilled training staff.
These reasons, as well as the return of Kevin Love and the addition of great wing players that actually complement Rubio's game, will lead to him making the jump. He's never had great three point shooters surrounding him, which he does now. He has two big men who are very adept at playing pick and roll basketball. Everything looks right, and the stars have a good chance of aligning for him this season.
As a team, you can't rely on a player making the leap. It's an organic process. Every player has potential, but few ever become great role players, much less stars. It's funner to talk about how new additions to the team will have an impact on team success, but how do they impact other players already there?
This year, given good health, Rubio should be making plenty of appearances on highlight reels.