Ricky Rubio was one of the hottest topics of NBA discussion and debate last summer, then pretty much fell off the radar once he decided he’d rather stay in Spain for a couple of years than play for the Timberwolves right away.
Don’t think they’ve forgotten about Rubio in Minnesota, though, especially when fans and front-office had to watch fellow ’09 draftees Stephen Curry, Brandon Jennings and Darren Collison — all point guards picked after the Wolves took Rubio — go on to make this year’s All-Rookie First Team.
So what has Rubio been up to? Playing for international juggernaut FC Barcelona, the 19-year-old has put more muscle onto his frame and improved his shooting stroke. Rubio averaged 6.7 points per game and copped the Euroleague “Rising Star” award during the season, and over the weekend helped his team win the league championship. Barcelona knocked off Greek’s Olympiakos in the finals.
“To be in the Final Four of the Euroleague, this is where I want to be,” Rubio was quoted in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. “I’ve worked hard to make it to this goal. And this shows me that I chose the best option. I am so happy on this team. These players help me improve every day and so do the assistant coaches and other staff.”
Popular opinion is that the Wolves, who have a solid young PG in Jonny Flynn, are looking to trade Rubio, perhaps to move up or get more picks in the 2010 Draft. It doesn’t seem anybody in Minnesota really expects last summer’s sensation will ever play for their team, but even if Rubio’s rights wind up in New York or another big market like his people wanted in the first place, he won’t be coming to the NBA until 2011-12.