For the second time in exactly one week the Indiana Pacers are being mentioned as a potential landing spot for a point guard who, stylistically speaking, doesn't seem to be the missing piece for a puzzle which includes Monta Ellis. Like Jeff Teague before him, Ricky Rubio's name has been mentioned in conjunction with the Blue & Gold, reports the New York Post's Fred Kerber.
Minnesota's youth and depth could lead to a possible trade of point guard Ricky Rubio, whose name surfaced amid the rumors as a possible target for the Pacers (2), along with Atlanta's Jeff Teague.
ESPN 1500's Darren Wolfson offered up a theory on who might be the source of all these rumors alleging the Spaniard's availability. Later, he said he had not been informed of any talks between Minnesota and Indiana centering around the oft-injured point guard.
@RTM59 reads like a leak from the Rubio camp. But the Wolves will listen. Not shopping. But not like they're married to him.— Darren Wolfson (@DWolfsonKSTP) February 15, 2016
@A_Meierding they are in on Teague. So looking to upgrade at PG. Have not heard of talks w/ Wolves yet. Not sure they're a good match.— Darren Wolfson (@DWolfsonKSTP) February 15, 2016
Rubio, 25, ranks fifth in the league in points created off assists (18.7), fifth in potential assists (15.8), and 12th in secondary assists (1.4), but with sophomore guard Zach LaVine on the rise (no pun intended), the Timberwolves could look to promote the 20-year-old from backup to starter sooner rather than later. It is unclear what the Pacers would be willing to offer in exchange for the pass-first point guard, who is owed $42 million through 2019.
Here are a few key numbers to know about a potential acquisition of Rubio by Indiana.
29.8: Ricky Rubio's field-goal percentage on catch-and-shoot three-pointers, better than only three starting point guards off the catch (minimum 30 mpg). Given his low conversion rate from beyond the arc, pairing the Spaniard with Monta Ellis would essentially be like recreating the Dallas Mavericks' failed attempt to play Rajon Rondo next to Ellis. With two j-challenged guards on the floor at the same time, opposing defenses would almost assuredly overload on Paul George, who is already trying to navigate his way through making plays for others when double-teamed.
Rubio is an assist artist and Ellis is at his finest when he is accelerating to the rim into the teeth of an opponent's defense or stopping on a dime and pulling-up at the elbow for a sweet mid-range jump shot. The problem here is that each player's best offensive skill require that he possess the basketball, which means they both would be better off sharing the back court with an off-ball threat capable of spacing the floor. Such as the point guard already on Indiana's roster.
6: The number of games Rubio has missed this season. A deviation from the norm of the crafty floor general's five-year NBA career. Suffering an acl tear in his left knee during his rookie season and undergoing left ankle surgery last spring, Rubio has played in 250 games and missed a monstrous 160. Is the biggest predictor of future injury past injury? That's certainly a question that Indiana needs to ponder, after being without Paul George for all but six games during the 2014-15 season.
-9.0: Minnesota's Net Rating when Ricky Rubio is on the bench. Comparatively, the Timberwolves outscore opponents by 1.5 points per 100 possessions when the tough nosed defender is on the floor. Rubio, who ranks fourth in the league in steals, surrenders only 0.74 points per possession (PPP) defending the pick-and-roll, trailing only Russell Westbrook (minimum 260 possessions). Frank Vogel's re-commitment to defense and his brand of Smashmouth basketball would not be the worse for adding Rubio.
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Ranking in the bottom-third of the league in assists per game, the Spaniard's elite court vision would be a sight for Indiana's sore eyes. But his passing wizardry and lock-down defense alone do not necessarily make him a better fit for the Pacers than the prototypical 3-and-D, self-sacrificing guard they already have slotted next to Ellis and have been allegedly trying to upgrade.