Rubio dazzles new teammates, who eat up his fancy dishes

  • Article by: JERRY ZGODA , Star Tribune
  • Updated: December 9, 2011 - 6:04 AM

The rookie point guard's passes wow Wolves in pickup game.


Ricky Rubio is “real good” for the team, said one teammate.

Just one single day spent playing with newly arrived Ricky Rubio and already his new Wolves teammates have caught something other than what instant believer Anthony Tolliver admiringly calls his "crazy" passes.

More than one of those teammates described Rubio as a contagion, and that's a good thing on a team that often struggled to move the ball last season.

"First time I've ever seen him play period, on film, anything," Tolliver said. "He's actually better than I expected."

To be sure, Thursday's action at Target Center was only a pickup game among teammates who haven't played a real game since springtime. But it did bring Rubio, Kevin Love, Anthony Randolph, Michael Beasley, Derrick Williams, Devean George and others together for some competition that featured more than anything the team's new pass-first point guard.

So how many "crazy" passes did Rubio deliver on Thursday?

"Every one," Tolliver said. "Every one he passes. It's crazy. His regular passes are like, 'Wow.' He can see the floor about as good as anyone I've seen. Everyone has to have their hands up because otherwise the ball is going to hit you in the face."

Randolph walked off the court afterward with no signs of "Spalding" tattooed across his forehead.

"Not yet," he said, "but he made some pretty spectacular passes. So I'm very excited to play with him. It's very contagious the way he passes the ball. It kind of makes everyone want to make the extra pass.

"I love playing with Ricky. Great passer."

Tolliver played with Tony Parker at San Antonio and Steph Curry at Golden State. After just one day with Rubio, he already made comparisons, and conclusions.

"He sees the floor just as good as any of them, probably better," Tolliver said.

"He and Steph Curry are about on the same level. He got the ball exactly where it needed to be when it needed to be there. That's a special talent. Not every point guard in the league has that. It's going to be real good for us."

Asked if Rubio sees the game uniquely, Randolph said, "Yeah, I've never seen anything like it."

Rubio's passing talents -- from every and all angles imaginable and sometimes otherwise -- never have been questioned.

His physical strength and shooting ability have been.

"I don't know who came out and said he can't shoot," Tolliver said. "I don't think he missed today."

Of course, Thursday's pickup games aren't even an NBA practice, let alone a preseason game, let alone a regular-season game.

Those tests will begin Friday, when the Wolves open an abbreviated training camp that will lead quickly to the Dec. 26 season opener against Oklahoma City.

Still, Thursday's action a made good first impression.

"I feel good with them," Rubio said of his new teammates. "And I think they understand the way I want to play."

Rubio said he wants to bring a little bit of Europe with him to the NBA.

"I'm going to try what I learned in Europe here to try to win more games," he said. "In Europe, we move the ball. We're more as a team like a normal NBA team, I don't know. I have to learn a lot of things from here, and they're going to teach me a lot of things like they did today."

Maybe Rubio will bring a little Europe to the NBA, if that's what it means to play unselfishly.

"With Ricky having the ball in his hands and making great passes, it became, 'Let's do that,''' Tolliver said about Thursday's games.

"It worked because it just became next pass after next pass after next pass. That was a problem of ours last year: The ball stuck too much. But when we were playing today, the ball was moving.

"If we do that, it'll be real good for us."


The Wolves added veteran NBA forward Devean George, guards Will Conroy and Dominique Johnson and former Illinois center Shaun Pruitt to their training-camp roster to give them 19 players for two-a-day practices.

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