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Friday Musings: Can Mike Penberthy Help Ricky Rubio?

Mike Penberthy will become shooting coach of the Minnesota Timberwolves. Yes, many believe he's being brought onboard to help Ricky Rubio become a competent scoring option. How is he going to do that?

Roberto Serra/Iguana Press

Hello, everyone. Happy Friday. Today's musings will be short and to the point.

Yesterday, the Minnesota Timberwolves hired Mike Penberthy as a shooting coach, Jason Hervey as scout while promoting Derek Pierce from general scout to advanced scout. Penberthy has been living in Los Angeles, California and worked with Ricky Rubio for a week prior to the FIBA World Cup. The following is from a column written by Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune.

"I don't even want to pigeonhole him (Penberthy) as a shooting coach because i think there are other things he'll be able to help us with," Wolves coach/president Flip Saunders said. "That will be his main emphasis. Ricky enjoyed working with him, even though it was only for a week. I think if Ricky had a chance to spend a month with him or six weeks, I believe we could have seen some good changes. We'll let his role evolve. It's important for him to see how we want to play and where guys are going to get shots and how he can incorporate that into our shooting."

The gig is up (and has been for some time now). Anyone with half-an-ear to the NBA gossip understands: Rubio isn't a potent threat to score the basketball on his own.

Rubio's ostentatious passing and pesky defending are undeniably two effective attributes a point guard can posses. Still, he is not yet a complete player. Disputes between unsympathetic critics and apologists amicably accept the notion Rubio can become a more effective scorer this season, though some feel it is more unlikely than others.

One could argue Rubio's best chance of improving his field goal percentage will be dependent on the ability to finish attempts taken in the area around the basket. During the 2012-2013 season, he converted 78 of 180 attempts taken within five-feet of the basket (43%). Last year, after playing a full 82 games, Rubio made 143 of 297 attempts in the same area (48%). The larger sample shows a year-to-year increase in shooting percentage -- though there's obviously still room to improve.





The alarming contrast between the two graphics: Rubio's FG% from the 15-19 ft. area. Obviously, a 10 percent decline after only taking 17 more shots from one season to the next is cause for concern.

It has been said the flaw hindering Rubio's ability to shoot and score the basketball at a respectable percentage is fundamental. He simply grips the ball with his shooting-hand too far on the side instead of more underneath the ball. This causes the release to be flat, rendering a shot with very little arc. The flatter the release the more narrow the window is for the ball to fall through the hoop.

Whether or not Mike Penberthy can salvage Ricky Rubio's renowned broke jumpshot is yet to be seen. At the least, it's good to see management addressing an issue rather than ignoring it. Flip Saunders is making a concerted effort to help his starting point guard improve.

I don't think hiring Penberthy hints at any developments between the Wolves and Rubio in terms of contract negotiations, but, some may speculate otherwise.