NBA: Ricky Rubio out in front of pack of point guards
By Eddie Sefko
The Dallas Morning News
In the Blake Griffin draft, the only thing more certain than him going No. 1 is that there will be a slew of point guards peppering the first round.
And that crowd of ballhandlers is not without controversy at the top.
Ricky Rubio, the Spaniard regarded by many as the best point-guard prospect ever to come out of Europe, has been called “overhyped” by Brandon Jennings, the American who played in Europe last season rather than go to college for a year before becoming NBA-eligible.
Some players and executives who saw both play in Europe have stated the opposite — that it’s Jennings who isn’t worthy of the status heaped upon him.
Apparently, NBA talent scouts agree. Rubio will be the first point guard taken in Thursday’s draft, which is rich at the position and relatively weak everywhere else.
Rubio, 19, burst onto the scene in the Beijing Olympics, where he helped Spain win a silver medal. Since then, most of the talk has been about whether he and the team that drafts him will be able to negotiate a buyout of his three-year contract with Spanish League team DKV Juventut. The issue has ended up in Spanish court.
Somehow, these things have a way of working out. While NBA teams can only help so much, American endorsements have been known to quickly cover any out-of-pocket expense players incur from getting out of European contracts.
Rubio is expected to go in the top four, with the most likely destination being Sacramento at No. 4.
Memphis, which has the second pick, has been deemed a non-player by people in Rubio’s camp. Oklahoma City, picking third, also is likely to pass on Rubio since it already has Russell Westbrook, who proved to be a rock-solid point guard last season as a rookie.
After Rubio, things get interesting. Jennings will not be the second point guard taken. That honor will go to Memphis’ Tyreke Evans, UCLA’s Jrue Holiday, Davidson’s Stephen Curry or Syracuse’s Jonny Flynn.
Flynn has perhaps the most intriguing future.
“He’s one of the most exciting point-guard packages in the draft,” Mavericks president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson said. “He’s got leadership, integrity, and he’s a winner in every sense of the word — a big playmaker and big shotmaker.”
Holiday, meanwhile, has gained a huge shot of momentum in the week leading up to the draft. He’s had some impressive workouts and probably has put himself into the top 10. As for Curry, his shooting makes him more of a combo guard than a true point.
Most GMs believe Evans will be taken with the fifth or sixth pick. The success of Derrick Rose, another Memphis product, certainly doesn’t hurt his status.
Stayed at VCU for four seasons and averaged 22.4 points and 6.2 assists as a senior with an assist-turnover ratio of 2.1-to-1, more than acceptable for a collegian . . . He had 21 points, seven assists and six rebounds in an NCAA Tournament loss to UCLA . ... Shot 36 percent from 3-point range and 82 percent from the foul line.
Ranking the point guards
Player . . ........ College . . . . Ht. . ...Comment
Ricky Rubio .... Spain.........6-4.......Big potential, just as much pizzazz
Tyreke Evans ....Memphis.....6-5........Stock has steadily risen in workouts
Jonny Flynn..... Syracuse......6-0.........A complete point-guard package
Stephen Curry.... Davidson....6-3.........Great shooter, suspect ballhandler
Jrue Holiday...... UCLA........6-3.........Split time with Darren Collison
Brandon Jennings... Italy.......6-0..........Year in Europe helped him a lot
Ty Lawson.......North Carolina....6-0......Quick with excellent fundamentals
Jeff Teague.......Wake Forest......6-2........Long wingspan; turnover machine
Also of note: Darren Collison, Patrick Mills, Nick Calathes, Toney Douglas, Rodrigue Beaubois, Curtis Jerrells.