The Ricky Rubio effect

Bienvenido al programa de Ricky Rubio. Get used to hearing that phrase people. Well…that is of course assuming you’re tuned into a Spanish-speaking station. Rubio’s teammates may end up hearing the phrase a lot though with the Spanish media drooling all over Rubio and his highlight-worthy passing game.

Although he has yet to start, Rubio leads the team in assists. Some of Rubio’s passes have already made Sportscenter which you can expect to be a common occurrence as he and all those young guns that play with him on the Minnesota Timberwolves start to find their way.

Rubio has even managed to turn some of his fellow NBA players into fans. LeBron James would post this comment on Twitter after watching Rubio play his first regular season game:

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Rubio hasn’t wasted any time showing off his ability to see the floor and his uncanny knack of knowing when things are going to happen before they do. Some of the passes he makes are reminiscent of the passes we are used to seeing from the likes of Jason Kidd and Steve Nash when you watch how he is able to thread seemingly impossible angles to set up easy baskets for his teammates.

Having a guy with that kind of passing ability is a great thing to have with so many young players on this team. The Timberwolves changed coaches during the offseason and brought in three new players (JJ Barea along with rookies Rubio and Derrick Williams) so it’s going to take time for this team to jell.

Having the offseason shortened because of the lockout is another obstacle that has slowed this teams’ progress so the ability to get easy buckets will be extremely valuable as these young Timberwolves learn each other and get acclimated to their new coach’s offensive scheme.

Rubio is not just a one-dimensional passer though. Not only has he made an impact with his passing ability, he also leads the team in field goal shooting percentage (57.1%) and three-point shooting percentage (66.7%) scoring just under ten points-per-game.

To be honest, it shouldn’t surprise people to see Rubio playing so well so fast. He has been playing professional ball in Europe since he was 14 and even won an Olympic Silver medal as a member of the 2008 Spanish National team losing to LeBron and company in the Olympic basketball final round.

Rubio’s play overseas is why he already had the reputation of being a pass-first point guard before he even set foot in the league but if he can continue to shoot lights out like he has so far then it is going to really open things up for his teammates. Teams would rather play off him and clog the passing lanes but with him shooting so well defenders have to respect his shot.

Which only serves to open up those passing lanes that Rubio is so fond of. Be ready to witness a Pistol Pete-like passing display when Rubio and company come through your town. And Minnesota fans? Don’t be surprised if an announcer shouts this phrase over your P.A. system: Bienvenido al programa de Ricky Rubio [Translation for those of us who don’t speak Spanish: Welcome to the Ricky Rubio show].

Roosevelt Hall is an NBA Featured Journalist for The Sports Blitz