WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 06: John Wall #2 of the Washington Wizards reacts after making a basket against the New York Knicks during the second half at Verizon Center on January 6, 2012 in Washington, DC. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
It wasn't Ricky Rubio's 14 assists or the T-Wolves 93-72 win that the Wizards should take note of. It's the way Minnesota has set up its franchise point guard to succeed.
WASHINGTON, D.C -. So, would you rather have Ricky Rubio or John Wall? The obvious question lingered after the Timberwolves rookie point guard -- the Spanish Boy Wonder the Wizards passed on for a poo-poo platter of vets in the 2009 NBA Draft -- came off the bench to orchestrate a 93-72 win against the hapless Wizards on Sunday afternoon.
But come on, that's not it. The real issue is how naked Sunday's game, and Rubio's presence, made Washington's situation: The Wizards were expected to be a mess, but they can't let that present threaten the future of their young-star-to-be. Wall sounds lost.
"I didn't expect it to be this tough," he said. "It's just not good right now."
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It's kind of amazing. For all the jokes -- (KAHN!) -- the Timberwolves have put Rubio in a terrific position to succeed.
Head coach Rick Adelman has cooked up a patient plan that's still more on-the-job training than the clipboard-holding rookie QB. Rubio comes off the bench alongside Derrick Williams, the No. 2 pick in the 2011 NBA draft, and the coaching staff has trusted him to finish off games in the fourth quarter, feeling his way through a too-high turnover rate.
Williams said he's happy to be playing behind All-Star Kevin Love, and that the Wolves approach has been helpful.
"I'm kind of glad [Ricky and I] both come off the bench together," he said.
It's a stark contrast to Wall, who was handed the Wizards captaincy out of the gate and headlining role in the offense upon arriving in D.C.
Oh, and the type of talent is with Rubio on the court. That helps. For a lottery team picking at the top of the lottery, the T-Wolves don't lack for skill.
"We've got guys that can score, guys that can play above the rim, guys that can shoot it," Kevin Love said. "He's able to manipulate the offense in that way with the pick-and-roll, and he's the type of player that can really get what he wants out there.
"This is a great place for him to grow," he added. "A great place for him to be."
Minnesota's offense has opened up space for Rubio's game, surrounding him with big men who can pick-and-roll or pick-and-pop, and when he uses them to find his way into the middle, there are shooters -- Williams, Wayne Ellington, Anthony Tolliver -- camped at the three point line where only he sees them.
Rubio had a career-high 14 assists in 30 minutes on Sunday. The Wizards had 15 as a team. Does Wall sound a bit envious?
"We got guys that can shoot. I just think that, like I said, at times we aren't taking shots when we're supposed to," Wall said. "We're pump-faking or taking an extra two, three dribbles when we don't have to. We got guys who can make shots. We just need the confidence to take them when we're supposed to."
Rubio was asked before the game if he would have liked to play in Washington, had the Wizards selected him way back when.
"I don't know," he said. "Minnesota was the team who drafted me and I don't want to think anything else. They were the one who trusted me, and I'm so glad that they did."
Remember that source close to Wall, the one that told Sporting News "You can’t raise good crops in bad soil." You wonder for how much longer John Wall would echo Rubio when talking about his own franchise.