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Wolves rookie point guard Ricky Rubio (9)

Courtney Perry, Star Tribune

'Not like robots': Rubio enjoys it so far

  • Article by: JERRY ZGODA
  • Star Tribune
  • December 12, 2011 - 6:24 AM

Ricky Rubio has had three full days to acclimate himself to NBA practices and Rick Adelman's coaching strategies.

The very early verdict?

"I love it," the Timberwolves rookie point guard said after Sunday's three-plus-hour practice. "We can call a system, but in that system you have freedom to see which is the best option for us, not like robots. Or not like, 'Only these two guys are going to play and the other three aren't going to be in the play.'

"This way, all five players can score, all five can be in the play. I love the way that we are playing right now."

Adelman, in turn, has praised Rubio's court vision and passing after all three days of practice.

But what about the Spanish guard's defense?

"He just has to be careful not to put his hands on the guy too much, because they let that happen in Europe, but they're not going to let a rookie do that here," Adelman said. "But he's really a smart player and he'll make that adjustment."

Rubio said he finds freedom even in those words of caution from Adelman.

"He gives me the confidence to be myself on the court, trying not to take a lot of risks on defense but knowing when I have to take it," Rubio said. "He'll let me do it. Sometimes it happens in a good way, sometimes not. But he lets me try."

Something to prove

Second-round pick Malcolm Lee continued to practice Sunday while the Wolves and his agent negotiate a contract. Lee, a 6-5 combo guard from UCLA, has agreed to participate in training camp without a signed contract.

"I just wanted to come out and play," Lee said. "The very first day, I didn't know anything about it, so I just got advice from my agent. And he was like, 'You should go out there and show them what you can do.' "

Adelman said of Lee: "He's an aggressive player. He's solid. He knows how to play and he competes, which is really neat."

What's in a number?

Ever wonder what happened to Tanguy Ngombo, that hidden gem and second-round pick the Wolves purportedly unearthed overseas but who now might or might not be 27?

Despite the discrepancy between his passport and FIBA records, the Wolves retain his right from a draft-night trade with Portland. Wolves President of Basketball Operations David Kahn said he believes Ngombo, his agent and his Qatar passport that the 6-6 small forward is 22 and not 27.

"I have no reason to think otherwise," said Kahn, who said Ngombo's progress will be monitored carefully while he plays overseas this season just like every other of the team's international prospects.

Rookie report

No. 2 overall pick Derrick Williams has improved every day after a slow start on Friday's opening day of camp, according to his coach.

"He has been much more explosive and much more aggressive the last two days," Adelman said. "He's learned how to play a faster-paced game, learning where he should be, when he should be. He's definitely very explosive in the open court."

Etc.

• Kevin Love practiced fully Sunday, one day after he took a knee in the thigh. The Wolves came through camp's first three days healthy. Adelman has kept players to one long practice each day because he said he believes it allows them to recover better each day.

• Forwards Love, Williams and Michael Beasley haven't played much together yet, but that will change. "I've just been mixing it up every day," Adelman said. "I've just put different combinations out there and have guys play. That [Love-Beasley-Williams grouping] probably will come the middle of next week, when we'll probably try to play guys consistently together just to get a feel for what they can do."

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