Will Ricky Rubio Bust? A Debate
FanHouse's Matt Moore and Tom Ziller sit on diametrically opposite ends of the Rubio spectrum. As such, a debate (conducted via e-mail) seemed in order. Enjoy. -- MM & TZ
Ziller: We should admit right off we both have seen Rubio in game-action a limited number of times. But to be fair, I had only seen, say, Anthony Randolph once at LSU, and even Michael Beasley only three or four times. It is not as if most fans and analysts have seen any draft prospect as much as we have seen, say, an NBA rookie.
But we both obviously have some strong opinions of Rubio's future in the league, as we have opinions on a dozen or so other prospects. Why do you believe Rubio will be a failure in the NBA, or is that not an accurate statement?
Moore: Oh, failure's such a strong word.
I don't think there's anything wrong with drafting Rubio in the top 10. I think there are many, many things wrong with drafting him with one of the top three picks. Hey, maybe the undersized kid that can barely buy porn in the states really will turn out to be the next coming of Maravich. But you've got guys like Tyreke Evans who have shown they can go toe to toe with NBA-level talent -- and use what is not a frame built from Shaggy from "Scooby Doo" to further their teams' interests. Rubio is certainly skilled and has some length to him. But he's limited in lots of ways in which we measure potential. Instead he's supposed to be creative and just "special."
What is it about him that's going to even out the measurables he surrenders to other prospects?
Ziller: What evens out the measurables he surrenders to other prospects, in my opinon, is that he'll be playing basketball. Not "measurableball," or some such.
I think the sentiment that somehow the UABs and Eastern Carolinas have more "NBA level talent" than the ACB is not quite right. Rubio has been competing against professional players in the ACB for three years. This isn't the NBA, but I think it's comparable with high level college basketball at least. And he's done well, obviously, having won the league's Defensive Player of the Year award this season.
To be honest, of all point guards rumored for the lottery, Rubio has the biggest, most public oeuvre. The ACB, early-round Euroleague competition, youth international competition, and of course the Olympics -- I dare say Rubio has been on TV as much as the "proven" Evans over the last three years. And it's interesting to me that (Brandon Jennings aside) players, coaches and scouts never have anything bad to say about Rubio's game -- it's all remarkably glowing. But we as fans pick apart the things we see as faults -- the things you nudged at, like his athleticism. Here we have a player we know can play basketball very, very well, yet he doesn't fit the mold of our prospects -- he can't jump a llama or beat an unladen swallow in a sprint -- so we doubt him. If we ever want to change the system to where players are selected instead of prospects, it seems to me Rubio would be a fine starting point.
Moore: Hey, and not being athletically talented but really good at basketball fundamentals has worked out great for tons of players in the last ten years. Like Adam Morrison.
Rubio has been competing against professional players who can't hack it in the NBA for three years. I'm all for globalization of the game, but let's not go thinking that the NBA isn't the premier league from players 1 through Sasha Vujacic.
Yet the reason prospects are such a big deal is because at age 19, no one is able to compete with the rest of the league. Those that do are athletic freaks with natural talent, not Spanish Globetrotters. Meanwhile, we've got kids that have size, speed, athleticism, can score, can pass, and don't look like a Jonas Brother.
Maybe he'll come in and set the world on fire, splitting double teams with behind the back passes and successfully defending players that have advantages in every facet of the game when he has no physical tools to fall back on. Or maybe the reason so many teams seem to be backing off of him as we approach the draft is that they see the gigantic glowing neon sign that reads 'OVERHYPED' floating around him.
Ziller: To say that because Rubio can't make like Evans and leap the Mississippi on two bounces he has no athletic ability is too strong. You think Steve Nash would win American Gladiators against Marcus Banks? Of course not. So why is Nash the two-time MVP while Banks has turned into Shawn Marion's luggage? Because of basketball talent. It's pretty important.
How many point guards in this draft do you believe will be better than Rubio when it's all over?
Moore: That's a fair point, I hadn't considered the Nash corollary. But then, how long did it take Nash to reach the level he was at in his prime? And he was drafted 15th. Again, I think Rubio is definitely a quality pick for some teams. I'm just not convinced he's worth a top five. He's a top ten that could end up looking like he should have been top five. But as opposed to all those who fear missing out on the next great thing, I worry much more about paying the next worst thing.
I'm huge on Evans, obviously, and from there it depends on how you consider the guards, whether they are points or not. I think he'll be better than Lawson, Flynn, Curry. I was going to say I think Jennings will be better, but I realized I don't have much reason to back that up. It'll be interesting for sure.
I can tell you one thing, though. Drafting Rubio will be a much better decision than drafting Thabeet...
If that hint isn't clear enough, the next Moore/Ziller draft debate will focus on the prospects of Hasheem Thabeet.