In a profession of relatively few, highly skilled individuals the world knows by name, Ricky Rubio’s best plays are unique to anybody else. It’s not hard to know why, either: He’s been a pro since he was 16 in Spain. While that’s an easy space to insert an even easier AAU joke, Rubio’s whole career has been one long test of the adage that you get better only by playing against those who are better. Since he was an early teenager, he’s been playing against grown men, an experience that’s made him into a player who seems — after much discussion that he’d turn out otherwise — to be a lock for an All-Star appearance during his NBA tenure.
Just because he played against players years older than him for at least the first four years of his career didn’t mean they were always better, however. At some point in Spain — around the time he transferred from DKV Jovenut to ACB Barcelona — he became Euroleague’s flashiest and best guard. No one doubts his development hit a plateau after the 2008 Olympics, but after only his first couple weeks in the NBA last winter, he proved that the star we’d all heard about watching half-focused EuroLeague clips on YouTube was, in fact, true. Now Rubio, after suffering ligament damage last March, is expected to make his return to the Timberwolves lineup within the next two weeks — if not tonight. The world of point guards rejoices.
Until he returns, tide yourself over with his top 10 career plays.
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10. HITTING THE TRAILER
There’s a good chance Rubio would have challenged this EuroLeague big man with his left hand, made the layup under pressure and we all would have forgotten about this play forever. Instead, he gets the big man completely out of position by wrapping the ball around the other side, hitting a trailing forward whose dunk can’t be defended by a guy who’s still halfway turned around. Yes, this is No. 10.