Great Ricky Rubio pass

Watch this and you’ll get an idea of why Ricky Rubio is creating so much buzz.

That said, Kyrie Irving is putting on a show in Cleveland and looks like a future all-star and Rookie of the Year candidate.

Hat Tip: Eddy Rivera

Follow the Scores Report editors on Twitter @clevelandteams and @bullzeyedotcom.

Let’s talk T-Wolves!

Minnesota Timberwolves forward Kevin Love (L) celebrates a basket with teammate Nikola Pekovic (R) during the second half of the Timberwolves’ NBA basketball game against the Dallas Mavericks in the Target Center in Minneapolis, March 7, 2011. Love extended his double-double streak to 51 consecutive games, tying Moses Malone for the NBA’s longest streak of double-doubles since the NBA-ABA merger in 1976. Dallas won 108-105. REUTERS/Eric Miller (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)

ESPN asked five Minnesota-related questions of its network of NBA bloggers and it’s once again time for me to piggy-back on the proceedings.

1. Fact or Fiction: Ricky Rubio will be a star.

Fiction: I think he can be a better than average NBA starter, but by all accounts he hasn’t developed over the last couple of seasons as was expected. His shooting percentage is pretty dreadful, so that inaccuracy will limit his upside. On a positive side, he has great court vision and is a pretty good defender. I don’t see stardom, but I do see starterdom.

2. Fact or Fiction: Rick Adelman should be the Wolves’ next coach.

Fact. He’s the best coach available and has had success just about everywhere he’s landed. He’s not going to turn this ship around quickly, but he’ll make the T-Wolves better.

3. Fact or Fiction: Derrick Williams should start.

Fact. Let’s see if he can play the 3. If it’s a disaster, then bring him off the bench in a 6th man role and let him build his confidence against the other team’s backups. It’s not like losing a few games early is going to tank the T-Wolves’ season. It’s already tanked.

4. Fact or Fiction: Michael Beasley has a bright future in Minnesota.

Fiction. It’s doubtful that he has a bright future anywhere. This is a guy who, at one of these glorified playground games, recently pushed a fan in the face because he couldn’t take the criticism. Maybe he’ll turn it around — you never know. He did post nice numbers on a bad team in 2010-11.

5. Fact or Fiction: Minny makes the playoffs while K-Love is still there.

Fiction. I’m not in Love’s head, but I wouldn’t re-sign with a team that is run by David Kahn. So unless the team fires Kahn and brings in a great basketball mind, Love will likely sign elsewhere even though the T-Wolves can (currently) offer the most money.

Revisiting the point guards of the 2009 NBA Draft

Atlanta Hawks’ Jeff Teague (R) drives to the net on Chicago Bulls’ Omer Asik during Game 5 of their NBA Eastern Conference second round playoff basketball game in Chicago, May 10, 2011. REUTERS/John Gress (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)

Jeff Teague’s series performance (17-4-3, 56% shooting) against the Bulls in the Eastern Conference Semis got me thinking about all the promising point guards that came out of the 2009 Draft. Take a look:

5. Ricky Rubio, T-Wolves
6. Jonny Flynn, T-Wolves
7. Stephen Curry, Warriors
10. Brandon Jennings, Bucks
17. Jrue Holiday, 76ers
18. Ty Lawson, T-Wolves (traded to Nuggets)
19. Jeff Teague, Hawks
20. Eric Maynor, Jazz (traded to Thunder)
21. Darren Collison, Hornets (traded to Pacers)
25. Rodrigue Beaubois, Thunder (traded to Mavericks)
29. Toney Douglas, Knicks

It’s pretty amazing that with the emergence of Teague in Atlanta, no fewer than six players on that list have developed into starting caliber point guards in the NBA. Four others (Douglas, Beaubois, Maynor and Flynn) are rotation players.

Here are the 2010-11 stats for each player, sorted by Efficiency Per Minute, which is I believe the best way to quickly compare a player’s production.

Read the rest of this entry »

Ricky Rubio doesn’t want to play for the T-Wolves?

Barring some sort of language barrier or misquote, “a senior member of Rubio’s camp” seems to have confirmed to the New York Times what we all pretty much knew — Ricky Rubio does not want to play for the Minnesota Timberwolves.

The Timberwolves continue to push him toward the N.B.A. as soon as possible, contending privately that they have a commitment from him for next season. But Rubio’s camp does not appear to be convinced.

“The bottom line is, why would he want to play in Minnesota?” a senior member of Rubio’s camp said this month. “He’ll continue to say all the diplomatic things, and Minnesota needs to keep his value up for trade purposes, but the family’s preference is to be on the East Coast, specifically New York, Miami or Boston. He wouldn’t be troubled if he has to stay another year.”

But the Timberwolves have leverage. They hold his exclusive draft rights, meaning they are the only N.B.A. team with whom he can negotiate. Their latest strategy in trying to persuade Rubio to sign may center on the possible N.B.A. lockout of players after the collective bargaining agreement expires June 30. The terms of the new agreement will probably be significantly less favorable for rookies.

New York, Miami or Boston…hmmm. Well, Boston is probably out because Rajon Rondo is already there, and he’s one of the best point guards in the NBA. It’s not like Rubio’s recent play has been so awe-inspiring that the C’s would give up on a bird in the hand like Rondo. Some are even wondering if Rubio’s development has stalled.

Miami would be an interesting landing spot from a how-are-they-going-to-make-this-work standpoint, but Rubio is not a good fit. LeBron and Dwyane Wade handle the ball so much that it would be a waste of Rubio’s playmaking talents. LeBron and Wade need to play with a point guard who can space the floor with good three-point shooting, and that’s not Rubio’s game. At all.

The Knicks are a possibility, and Rubio’s freewheeling, pass-first style would be fun to watch in Mike D’Antoni’s up-tempo system, but Raymond Felton is averaging 17.5 points and 8.7 assists, and is a better scorer than Rubio at this point. Felton is only under contract for one more season, so if the Knicks see Rubio as a better point guard of the future, they have a few assets that might appeal to the Timberwolves.

The article goes on to discuss how the new CBA might not be as favorable to rookies, and that might encourage Rubio to sign before June 30. But right now it looks like he’s willing to play in Spain for another season and try to force the T-Wolves to trade his rights to an East Coast team.

It’s amazing — T-Wolves GM David Kahn took three point guards (Rubio, Jonny Flynn, Ty Lawson) in what was considered to be a great draft for that position and still doesn’t have his PG of the future. He passed on Brandon Jennings and Stephen Curry to take Rubio and Flynn, and ended up trading Lawson away (for a draft pick that turned into a trade for Martell Webster). Darren Collison was also available when the T-Wolves took Lawson.

The state of the T-Wolves — not that bad?

ESPN named the Minnesota Timberwolves as this season’s Team Turmoil.

But Benjamin Polk says that things aren’t so bad:

It’s fashionable at the moment to ridicule Kahn as an abrasive, unqualified hack. It’s clear the man has had some awfully low moments this summer and that he and Rambis haven’t yet found that transcendent player who will give meaning to their long-suffering franchise. And it’s equally clear that the Wolves are going to lose a lot of games this season.

But if you scan this lineup — Kevin Love, Nikola Pekovic, Wes Johnson, Martell Webster, Corey Brewer, even Darko Milicic and Michael Beasley — you’ll find a lot of young, smart, athletic, hungry players. These are players who want to learn, who want to run, who want to move the ball and play defense. Aren’t these just the type of players who would seem to fit well into Rambis’ up-tempo-and-triangle offense? And when you consider the Wolves have roughly $10 million in cap space, doesn’t the picture look a lot less ridiculous than this chaotic offseason might have suggested?

Am I just being naïve? Is it wrong for Wolves fans to hold on to even these tiny shreds of optimism? Let me tell you a story.

For the three years beginning with their six-game Western Conference finals loss to the Lakers in 2004 and ending with the Kevin Garnett trade of 2007, the Wolves slowly melted down. With very few exceptions (KG among them), the team became a nightmare of ball-hogging, extravagant contract demands, intentionally careless defense and mediocre effort. As the front office hemorrhaged draft picks, this collection of aging jump-shooters and corrosive personalities contributed to the firing of both Flip Saunders and Dwane Casey and helped hasten the KG era’s sad, pathetic end. What I’m saying is: We’ve seen turmoil and this isn’t it.

I don’t know that arguing your currently mismanaged team isn’t as bad as your previously mismanaged team really gets you anywhere. Things are bad in Minnesota, and they’re probably worse than they were in KG’s final years because at least at that point fans had a superstar to rally around.

As for Kahn, the guy is a joke right now, and seriously needs one of these moves — be it Ricky Rubio, Wes Johnson, the acquisition of Michael Beasley or the re-upping of Darko Milicic (yes, this guy is depending on Darko Freaking Milicic) — to give him some credibility in the world of NBA general managers.

No disrespect to Johnson, but if you know you’re going to move Al Jefferson, why pass up a talent like DeMarcus Cousins? He’s a true center and would have been a solid fit alongside Kevin Love on the front line. Throw in the fact that Kahn passed on Stephen Curry and Brandon Jennings twice in last year’s draft (while trading away arguably the next-best PG in the draft, Ty Lawson) and this T-Wolves roster could look a lot better.

And it’s not like Kahn has kept a low profile. While sitting in with color commentator Chris Webber during one of the summer league games, he compared Milicic’s passing ability favorably to Vlade Divac and suggested that Webber’s career path was somewhat similar. When C-Webb understandably took umbrage, Kahn went on the radio a few days later and called him a schmuck. Let’s just say that the guy doesn’t seem too savvy.

Maybe Ricky Rubio will eventually come and save the day, or Beasley will suddenly fulfill his considerable potential, but until that happens, Kahn is going to have a big fat bull’s eye painted on his chest.

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