Hartman: Saunders says be patient with Rubio

  • Article by: SID HARTMAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: January 12, 2014 - 10:46 PM

The point guard hasn't shot well, but the Wolves boss points out similar NBA players who became All-Stars.

hide

The Wolves' Ricky Rubio has struggled with his shooting, but Wolves boss Flip Saunders says to be patient with the 23-year-old point guard.

Photo: Marlin Levison, Star Tribune file

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

With Timberwolves point guard Ricky Rubio recently getting some criticism about his play, Wolves President of Basketball Operations Flip Saunders has come to his defense.

Rubio has had a frustrating season. He usually is a brilliant passer, but his shooting and decisionmaking — especially down the stretch of close games — has often been poor.

Saunders says he still believes fully in Rubio, and that the Wolves need to be patient with his offensive development.

“Here’s the thing,” said Saunders, a former point guard himself. “Ricky is 23 and he’s still somewhat young and he’s only played 100 games in our league. Is he not shooting the ball well? There’s no question. Has he at times made what some might call questionable decisions? Yeah. But there’s some things you can’t teach, and you can’t teach his offensive instinct and his passing ability.”

Going into Sunday’s game with the Spurs, Rubio was sixth in the league in assists at 8.2 per game and his 12.4 assists per 48 minutes trails only the Clippers’ Chris Paul at 15.5. He was second in the league in steals at 2.67 per game and was sixth in rebounding among NBA guards at 4.7 per game.

But Rubio’s 34.6 field-goal percentage is the worst among qualified NBA players this season and is on pace to be one of the worst shooting percentages in NBA history. His scoring average also has dipped by nearly two points per game, from 10.7 last year to 8.8 this season.

Rubio’s other major issue has been his performance in the final minutes of close games. According to NBA.com, in the final five minutes of the 19 games where the Wolves were either ahead or behind by five points, Rubio has been averaging only 0.6 points per game on 12.5 percent shooting, something that has to change.

Saunders said Rubio is aware of what he has to do to become a complete star in this league.

“He does have to learn how to knock down shots and knock down 15-, 20-foot shots and score around the basket on layups,” Saunders said. “So what is going to separate him from being a good guard to maybe being an All-Star-type guard is how he works on those [things].”

Saunders also took issue with people questioning Rubio’s work ethic.

“There have been people that have questioned, ‘Well, does he work out in the summer?’ ” Saunders said. “I can tell you this: He shoots and spends more time in that gym shooting than just about anyone we have. It’s not for a lack of trying. He just has to keep on working on it and hopefully it will kick in.

“It’s similar to what happened with John Wall down in Washington, who I [coached]. … We encouraged him to shoot and he shot poor percentages, but eventually he learned how to shoot and now he’s averaging over 20 a game and he’s an All-Star guard.”

Saunders also drew a parallel with former MVP Steve Nash, who, at the age of 24, was coming off his third season in the league in 1998-99 when he shot only 36.3 percent from the field and averaged 7.9 points per game after being traded from Phoenix to Dallas.

“People were about ready to give up on Steve Nash,” Saunders said. “He got traded to Dallas, Dallas was ready to give up on him and they didn’t know if he was ever going to play. [By 2004-05], he’s the MVP of the league. I’m not saying Ricky is going to turn into that, but as a young player I think you have to be somewhat patient.”

Musgrave connection

Bengals defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer, who is reported to be coming in for a second interview with the Vikings this week, could keep offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave if he were hired.

Zimmer was the defensive coordinator in Atlanta in 2007 when Musgrave was the quarterbacks coach there from 2006-09. Besides working in Atlanta and Cincinnati, Zimmer was with the Cowboys from 1994-2006 as a defensive backs coach and then defensive coordinator.

Harvin vs. Patterson

The Vikings traded wide receiver Percy Harvin to the Seahawks last March, then traded up for an extra first-round draft pick that landed Cordarrelle Patterson.

Harvin caught one pass for 17 yards in the regular season for the Seahawks, after having offseason hip surgery, then grabbed three receptions for 21 yards against the Saints in an NFC playoff game Saturday before suffering a concussion. The odds are he won’t play in the NFC Championship Game against the 49ers, according to reports out of Seattle.

Compare that to Patterson, who had 45 receptions for 469 yards and four touchdowns to go along with three rushing TDs and two kickoff returns for scores this year and is one of the more promising parts of the Vikings’ future.

Former Vikings wide receiver Sidney Rice, also with Seattle but out for the season after tearing his ACL in October, caught 15 passes for 231 yards and three touchdowns before the injury. In three seasons in Seattle, he has had 97 career receptions for 1,463 yards and 12 touchdowns. By comparison, Rice caught 83 passes for 1,312 yards and eight touchdowns for the Vikings in 2009 alone.

Jottings

• That was Twins owner Bill Pohlad on stage at the Golden Globes when “12 Years a Slave” won Best Picture in the drama category Sunday night. Pohlad was one of the main producers on the film. It was the second film produced by Pohlad to win a Golden Globe for best drama; he also won for “Brokeback Mountain” in 2006.

• Indications are that Gophers athletic director Norwood Teague will not hire a replacement deputy athletic director for David Benedict, who is going to Auburn, but instead will turn some of Benedict’s duties over to one or more staff members, with some promotions coming.

• Saunders was in East Lansing, Mich., on Saturday for the Gophers-Michigan State game. Even though Minnesota lost in overtime, he thought the team’s performance was the best he has seen by the Gophers in a long time. … Still, it won’t help the Gophers to face Ohio State here Thursday after the Buckeyes have lost two consecutive games for the first time in a long time — at Michigan State in overtime and then to Iowa at home on Sunday. The Buckeyes will be determined not to lose three in a row.

• Twins President Dave St. Peter was asked if the addition of Paul Molitor to Ron Gardenhire’s staff will be a big plus this year. “I know Gardy feels really good about having him on his coaching staff, and having him in the dugout with him will make an impact,” St. Peter said. “Paul is a unique guy in that he’s one of the greatest players to ever play the game, but he’s also a great teacher. We’ve seen that up and down our minor league system for many, many years. So there’s no doubt in my mind that Paul should bring a level of leadership and also competitiveness that any club could benefit from. We’re excited to have him back in our dugout and back on the field.”

 

Sid Hartman can be heard weekdays on 830-AM at 7:40, 8:40 and 9:20 a.m. and on Sundays at 9:30 a.m. shartman@startribune.com

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Toronto - LP: D. Hutchison 2 FINAL
NY Yankees - WP: M. Tanaka 5
Washington - WP: S. Strasburg 2 FINAL
Miami - LP: N. Eovaldi 1
NY Mets - WP: J. deGrom 10 FINAL
Atlanta - LP: E. Santana 2
Boston - WP: J. Kelly 3 FINAL
Baltimore - LP: M. Gonzalez 2
Milwaukee - LP: W. Peralta 0 FINAL
Pittsburgh - WP: V. Worley 1
Chicago WSox - WP: J. Danks 10 FINAL
Tampa Bay - LP: N. Karns 5
Cleveland - WP: C. Kluber 7 FINAL
Minnesota - LP: A. Swarzak 2
Detroit - LP: R. Porcello 2 FINAL
Kansas City - WP: J. Guthrie 5
Seattle - LP: H. Iwakuma 3 FINAL
Houston - WP: C. McHugh 8
Los Angeles - WP: C. Perez 8 FINAL
Chicago Cubs - LP: J. Turner 5
Texas - WP: S. Tolleson 2 FINAL
LA Angels - LP: H. Street 1
Philadelphia - LP: M. Gonzalez 6 FINAL
Oakland - WP: S. Doolittle 8
San Francisco - LP: R. Vogelsong 2 FINAL
San Diego - WP: I. Kennedy 8
Arizona - LP: W. Miley 3 FINAL
Colorado - WP: C. Bergman 8
Cincinnati 0 Bottom 3rd Inning
St. Louis 0
San Diego 22 FINAL
Buffalo 10
Dallas 34 FINAL
St. Louis 31
Washington 34 FINAL
Philadelphia 37
Houston 17 FINAL
NY Giants 30
Minnesota 9 FINAL
New Orleans 20
Tennessee 7 FINAL
Cincinnati 33
Baltimore 23 FINAL
Cleveland 21
Green Bay 7 FINAL
Detroit 19
Indianapolis 44 FINAL
Jacksonville 17
Oakland 9 FINAL
New England 16
San Francisco 14 FINAL
Arizona 23
Denver 20 FINAL
Seattle 26
Kansas City 34 FINAL
Miami 15
Pittsburgh 0 1st Qtr 2:38
Carolina 3
Chicago 9/22/14 7:30 PM
NY Jets
NY Giants 9/25/14 7:25 PM
Washington
Columbus 4 FINAL
Carolina 3
Buffalo 0 FINAL
Washington 1
St. Louis 3 1st OT 4:30
Columbus 3
Calgary 7:00 PM
Edmonton
Edmonton 0 2nd Prd 17:27
Calgary 1
Old Dominion 45 FINAL
Rice 42
Troy 0 FINAL
(12) Georgia 66
Georgia Tech 27 FINAL
Virginia Tech 24
Eastern Mich 14 FINAL
(9) Michigan State 73
Iowa 24 FINAL
Pittsburgh 20
Bowling Green 17 FINAL
(19) Wisconsin 68
Maryland 34 FINAL
Syracuse 20
Tulane 13 FINAL
Duke 47
Hawaii 12 FINAL
Colorado 21
Marshall 48 FINAL
Akron 17
North Carolina 41 FINAL
(23) East Carolina 70
Army 21 FINAL
Wake Forest 24
Virginia 33 FINAL
(20) BYU 41
(6) Texas A&M 58 FINAL
SMU 6
Rutgers 31 FINAL
Navy 24
Central Mich 10 FINAL
Kansas 24
Utah 26 FINAL
Michigan 10
Florida 21 FINAL
(3) Alabama 42
Louisville 34 FINAL
FIU 3
Fla Atlantic 19 FINAL
Wyoming 20
Indiana 31 FINAL
Missouri 27
San Jose St 7 FINAL
Minnesota 24
Texas State 35 FINAL
Illinois 42
Massachusetts 7 FINAL
Penn State 48
Georgia State 14 FINAL
Washington 45
Appalachian St 20 FINAL
Southern Miss 21
(14) Miss State 34 FINAL
(17) LSU 29
Northern Ill 14 FINAL
Arkansas 52
Middle Tennessee 17 FINAL
Memphis 36
Utah State 14 FINAL
Arkansas State 21
Miami-Ohio 24 FINAL
Cincinnati 31
Idaho 24 FINAL
Ohio U 36
Ball State 23 FINAL
Toledo 34
(13) So Carolina 48 FINAL
Vanderbilt 34
(4) Oklahoma 45 FINAL
West Virginia 33
Ga Southern 28 FINAL
South Alabama 6
UNLV 14 FINAL
Houston 47
Miami-Florida 31 FINAL
(21) Nebraska 41
New Mexico 38 FINAL
New Mexico St 35
Clemson 17 FINAL
(1) Florida State 23
California 45 FINAL
Arizona 49
San Diego St 7 FINAL
Oregon State 28
(2) Oregon 38 FINAL
Washington St 31
Louisiana 9 FINAL
Boise State 34
Texas Tech 9/25/14 6:30 PM
(24) Oklahoma State
Appalachian St 9/25/14 6:30 PM
Ga Southern
(11) UCLA 9/25/14 9:00 PM
(15) Arizona State
Middle Tennessee 9/26/14 7:00 PM
Old Dominion
Fresno State 9/26/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico
Texas-El Paso 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(25) Kansas State
Tennessee 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(12) Georgia
Vanderbilt 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Kentucky
Wyoming 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(9) Michigan State
Northwestern 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Penn State
TCU 9/27/14 11:00 AM
SMU
Iowa 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Purdue
Tulane 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Rutgers
So Florida 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(19) Wisconsin
Colorado State 9/27/14 11:30 AM
Boston College
Western Mich 9/27/14 11:30 AM
Virginia Tech
Maryland 9/27/14 12:30 PM
Indiana
Akron 9/27/14 12:30 PM
Pittsburgh
Bowling Green 9/27/14 2:00 PM
Massachusetts
Arkansas 9/27/14 2:30 PM
(6) Texas A&M
Kent State 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Virginia
Western Ky 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Navy
Minnesota 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Michigan
Wake Forest 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Louisville
FIU 9/27/14 2:30 PM
UAB
(1) Florida State 9/27/14 2:30 PM
NC State
Miami-Ohio 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Buffalo
Colorado 9/27/14 3:00 PM
California
Louisiana Tech 9/27/14 3:00 PM
(5) Auburn
Texas 9/27/14 3:00 PM
Kansas
Temple 9/27/14 3:00 PM
Connecticut
(16) Stanford 9/27/14 3:15 PM
Washington
TX-San Antonio 9/27/14 4:00 PM
Fla Atlantic
South Alabama 9/27/14 4:00 PM
Idaho
Cincinnati 9/27/14 5:00 PM
(22) Ohio State
Rice 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Southern Miss
Missouri 9/27/14 6:00 PM
(13) So Carolina
Boise State 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Air Force
North Carolina 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Clemson
Central Mich 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Toledo
Troy 9/27/14 6:00 PM
ULM
New Mexico St 9/27/14 6:30 PM
(17) LSU
Memphis 9/27/14 6:30 PM
(10) Ole Miss
Duke 9/27/14 6:30 PM
Miami-Florida
Texas State 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Tulsa
Washington St 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Utah
(8) Notre Dame 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Syracuse
(7) Baylor 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Iowa State
UNLV 9/27/14 7:00 PM
San Diego St
Illinois 9/27/14 8:00 PM
(21) Nebraska
Oregon State 9/27/14 9:30 PM
(18) USC
Nevada 9/27/14 9:30 PM
San Jose St
Chivas USA 0 FINAL
Toronto FC 3
Toronto 40 FINAL
Brt Columbia 23
Edmonton 23 FINAL
Hamilton 25
Calgary 15 FINAL
Montreal 31
Ottawa 32 FINAL
Saskatchewan 35
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: How many games will the Timberwolves win this season?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close