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#pounditWednesday, December 1, 2021

Articles tagged: Ricky Rubio

10 standouts of the NBA playoffs so far

LeBron James winner

We’re through two rounds of the NBA playoffs, and we’ve seen some outstanding performances across the league. Some of them come from the sources you would expect, while others have been more unlikely and surprising. Some didn’t even last that long, but were so impressive that they have earned the recognition.

Here are ten players who have stood out above the others during the NBA playoffs thus far.

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Report: Ricky Rubio could miss ten days with hamstring injury

The Utah Jazz could be without one of their key players for most, if not all, of the Western Conference semifinals.

According to Tony Jones of the Salt Lake Tribune, point guard Ricky Rubio, who left Game 6 of the West quarterfinals with a hamstring injury, will definitely miss Game 1 against the Houston Rockets and may be out for several weeks.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reported that it could be up to ten days before Rubio plays again.

That’s very bad news for the Jazz, who rely on Rubio’s defense and creativity. He had a great series against the Thunder, and they’ll miss him to start what was already a very tough series against Houston. That said, anything could happen if Rubio’s rookie teammate keeps stepping it up.

Russell Westbrook guarantees he will shut down Ricky Rubio in Game 4

Ricky Rubio had arguably his best game of the year in Saturday night’s playoff win over the Oklahoma City Thunder, and Russell Westbrook has promised it will not happen again in the series.

After Rubio led the Utah Jazz to a victory with 26 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists, Westbrook admitted he let his counterpart get in too much of a rhythm. The NBA MVP candidate insists Game 4 will be different.

“He made some shots,” Westbrook told reporters, per ESPN’s Royce Young. “Too comfortable. But I’m gonna shut that s— off next game though. Guarantee that.”

The Thunder have been intentionally forcing Rubio to take midrange shots throughout the series, and it seemed to be working prior to Game 3. After he shot just 5-of-18 from the field in Game 1 and 6-of-16 in Game 2, Rubio converted 9-0f-18 on Saturday but was a perfect 5-for-5 with midrange jumpers.

“I think the first two games, I wasn’t being effective in the midrange area,” Rubio admitted. “It’s been something I’ve been working on. I felt good about it, but it wasn’t going in.

“But tonight, it felt good seeing the first couple go in. It’s just the way we played. We got open shots, and it’s easy to make shots when you are open.”

Westbrook is apparently planning to eliminate some of those open shots going forward, but he also needs to improve offensively. He’s shooting just over 36 percent from the field in the series and scored just 14 points in Saturday’s 115-102 loss. That’s not the player we saw recently make NBA history with his offensive ability.

Report: Ricky Rubio convinced Wolves owner to trade him

Ricky Rubio

The Minnesota Timberwolves dangling Ricky Rubio at the trade deadline seemed like an annual tradition, but the trade that actually did send him out of the Gopher State last summer appeared to be of Rubio’s own doing.

Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic reported on Monday that Wolves owner Glen Taylor was initially reluctant to trade the veteran guard but changed his mind after Rubio told him directly that he thought a parting of ways would be best.

Rubio, 27, was drafted by the Wolves in 2009 and spent the first six seasons of his NBA career with them, becoming a Minnesota fan favorite. But his name was a constant inclusion in trade talks towards the latter part of his tenure, and he was ultimately sent to the Utah Jazz last June for a 2018 first-rounder.

Now Rubio is on the verge of clinching a playoff spot with the Jazz after never once making the postseason in Minnesota. He also scored a team-high 23 points with seven rebounds and three assists in a revenge game win over the Wolves on Sunday. All things considered, it’s hard to be surprised that Rubio pushed for a trade from Minny given the signs he had exhibited over the years.

12 most improved players in the NBA this season

Kristaps Porzingis

The calendar has flipped to November, Daylight Savings Time is no more, and most teams have played their first ten games or so, leaving roughly 72 contests remaining on the schedule. Of course, that can only mean one thing: [sounds airhorn] it’s Overreaction Season. And perhaps the most sacred of all the Overreaction Season traditions is fangirling over those who have successfully turned those 3 a.m. Instagram workouts and that reported 15 pounds of extra muscle into greater productivity on the court. Standing high above the rest of the field, here are the 12 most improved players of the 2017-18 season so far:

Kristaps Porzingis, PF, New York Knicks

Carmelo Anthony’s departure was all that was needed for our Latvian messiah to reveal himself fully. Porzingis has mutated into a nightly 30-point scoring threat now that he is the focal point of the Knickerbockers’ offense (sometimes even 40 as he proved on Sunday night in a comeback win over the Indiana Pacers), and he has been stunningly efficient despite the massive increase in volume (a career-high 50.0 percent shooting). One of Porzingis’ teammates thinks his scorching start should place him squarely in the MVP conversation. I might even take it a step further and call for beatification if he continues to flex with end-to-end displays of power like this:

Steven Adams, C, Oklahoma City Thunder

Spacing saves. With Carmelo Anthony starting at power forward instead of Taj Gibson, and Paul George stretching out opposing defenses instead of Victor Oladipo, Adams can finally rumble down the lane to his heart’s content for the Thunder. He has responded to the opportunity in kind with his best season both scoring (12.4 points per game) and rebounding (8.3 boards). Toss in his intimidating interior defense, and this mustachioed maestro looks like he’s worth every penny of the $100 million that Oklahoma City invested in him last season. What else is there to say? Funaki is a force.

Aaron Gordon, PF, Orlando Magic

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Jimmy Butler did not want Ricky Rubio in Timberwolves’ locker room

Jimmy Butler

Jimmy Butler had no interest in fraternizing with a former Timberwolves player after facing him on Saturday night.

The Star Tribune’s Jerry Zgoda reported on Saturday that Butler told authorities not to let Ricky Rubio into Minnesota’s locker room if he tried to visit following a game between the T-Wolves and Rubio’s new team, the Utah Jazz.

Minnesota won the game 100-97. Rubio had a fine statistical line against his former team and is trying to show what he can do in a bigger role. But Utah is his team now, and the Timberwolves, who drafted him No. 5 overall in 2009 have a new culture. Butler clearly doesn’t want the two things mixing now. You have to respect his attitude.

Ricky Rubio excited to play for team ‘that really believed in me’

Ricky Rubio

Ricky Rubio’s tenure with the Minnesota Timberwolves was filled with trade rumors, and now that the point guard is out of there, he seems pretty relieved.

Rubio, never a favorite of Minnesota coach Tom Thibodeau, is hoping for a new lease on life with the Utah Jazz, and he certainly sounds refreshed and relieved.

“To get traded, it’s not fun, but I was really excited to go to an organization that really believed in me,” Rubio said, via Ryan McDonald of the Deseret News. “It’s a great basketball organization with a good tradition. It was a little weird. I was six years in Minnesota. My name was in the papers with rumors and all that stuff for the last couple years, but never traded. This summer, I guess it was time. I have no regrets. I had a great time in Minnesota, but I think it was time for the both of us to move on. I think it was that time of our relationship that it didn’t work out the way we wanted, and we move on.”

It’s fair to say that Rubio wasn’t highly valued at the end of his Timberwolves tenure, but the Jazz have big plans for him. We’ll see if that helps his play.

Jazz think Ricky Rubio can be their Jason Kidd

Ricky Rubio

The Utah Jazz are planning on Ricky Rubio having quite the role for the team next season.

Jazz GM Dennis Lindsey was on NBATV while the channel aired Summer League coverage, and he talked about the team’s plans for Rubio.

Kidd never really shot the ball well — he was a 40 percent career shooter — but the guy was a great passer and exceptional rebounder for a guard. He twice averaged over eight boards per game, and also averaged 8.7 assists per game during his career, not to mention just shy of two steals per game.

Rubio doesn’t rebound, shoot the three-ball or create nearly as well as Kidd did. He’s a fine player, but comparing him to a future Hall of Famer and expecting him to play at that level is a major stretch.

Report: Gordon Hayward told Jazz he wants to play with Ricky Rubio

Gordon Hayward Utah Jazz

There has been plenty of speculation that Gordon Hayward will leave Utah this summer as a free agent, but one roster move the Jazz made last week could give the team a much better shot at re-signing him.

ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne is reporting that Hayward told the Jazz he wants to play with Ricky Rubio, whom the team recently traded a first-round pick to acquire from the Minnesota Timberwolves.

The Jazz almost certainly made a move to get Rubio with re-signing Hayward in mind, and it sounds like there’s a good chance it could work. Hayward has already met with the Boston Celtics and Miami Heat and has players engaging in hilarious emoji battles over him, but the Jazz have the ability to offer him more money.

Hayward, 27, averaged a career high 21.9 points per game last year. The Jazz finished 51-31 last season and won a playoff series for the first time since 2010, but losing Hayward would be a major blow to their future prospects.

Report: Minnesota trading Ricky Rubio to Utah for first-round pick

Ricky Rubio

The Minnesota Timberwolves and Utah Jazz are finalizing a trade involving Ricky Rubio, according to reports.

ESPN’s Marc Stein says Utah will send a 2018 first-round pick to Minnesota for Rubio.

Rubio has been a part of trade talks dating back to last year when Minnesota drafted Kris Dunn, who was recently shipped out to Chicago in the Jimmy Butler deal. Despite that, rumors have persisted about Rubio being on the trade block.

News of Rubio being traded to Utah likely signifies much more for the Jazz. They probably are acquiring him with the knowledge that guard George Hill is leaving in free agency. That could spell even worse news for the Jazz considering top free agent Gordon Hayward’s fate reportedly was tied to whether Hill returned to the team.