Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) -
Once upon a time, Ricky Rubio looked like a sure thing. He was young, tall, athletic and just what the talent- starved Timberwolves needed.
It was a fantasy fairy tale in the making. Yet here we are, five years later, still waiting for everyone to live happily ever after.
Much like the team he plays for, Rubio has been a mixed bag this season. His assist totals are high (career-high 8.5 apg) and he's second in the NBA in steals (2.4 spg). Unfortunately, his shooting touch has been non-existent (37.6 field goal percentage) and fantasy owners are getting concerned.
Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. But what happens when you're fooled for a third time?
We're in Year 3 of the Ricky Rubio shooting nightmare and there's no end in sight. Rubio's 37.6 percent success rate, easily the worst among qualified point guards this season, is actually a career-high. He shot just 36 percent from the field last season and 35.7 percent as a rookie in 2011-12.
At an age when players should be gaining more confidence, the 23-year-old Rubio looks as tentative as ever. His 7.7 field goal attempts per game this season represents a new career-low. And that's while playing almost two minutes per game more than he did in 2012-13 (31.6 mpg compared to 29.7 last season).
Rubio's bizarre season puts him in a unique group. Since 2003, 67 players have averaged eight or more assists per game in a season. Only five have reached that number without scoring ten or more points per game.
As you might expect, Rubio is one of them. Out of the five, Rubio's field goal percentage is the second-lowest behind Jason Kidd in 2011 (36.1). His turnover rate (2.6 TO/game) is also the group's second-worst (2.8 for Lakers guard Kendall Marshall).
Basically, the guy has underachiever written all over him. Rubio's tepid 9.0 ppg scoring average would be fine for a second-round pick but Minnesota took him at No. 5 overall in the 2009 NBA Draft. At that point, future All-Stars Stephen Curry (20.1 career ppg, 6.6 apg) and Jrue Holiday (13.5 ppg, 6.0 apg) were both still available.
If we look back at the last ten No. 5 picks, Rubio's 9.9 career ppg ranks sixth while his 36.5 percent field goal percentage is dead last. Even famous 2006 draft bust Shelden Williams (46.2 percent) has shot for a higher percentage than Rubio.
With mediocre players like Patty Mills (9.9 ppg), D.J. Augustin (12.6) and Darren Collison (11.2) all averaging more ppg than Rubio, fantasy owners shouldn't have much reason for optimism. That's especially true now that Kevin Love, Rubio's main source of assists throughout his career, could be on the move this offseason.
Of course, it's possible that Rubio could be a late bloomer. Jason Kidd shot a career-best 42.3 percent from the field in 2010 at age 37. Similarly, Rajon Rondo, a very poor outside shooter early in his career (24.4 percent on threes in his first four seasons) has at least become passable from beyond the arc (27.9 percent, career-high 24 three-pointers made in 2014).
Maybe the best is yet to come for Rubio. But more likely, the Timberwolves and fantasy owners will have to live with their mistake.
Speaking of the T-Wolves, they're two losses away from missing the postseason for the eighth year in a row. So much for happily ever after.