Profile of a Shooter: Ricky Rubio

Apr 11, 2014; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Timberwolves guard Ricky Rubio (9) shoots at Target Center. The Minnesota Timberwolves win 112-110. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

By the box score, Ricky Rubio is one of the worst shooters in NBA history. His career effective field goal percentage (eFG%) of 40.1% through his third season would be 5th-worst among the 1220 players with at least 1000 FGA in the three-point era.

However, digging a little deeper, we see the issue isn’t “shooting” per se. Rubio is a well below average jump shooter — his eFG% of 36.8% on shots from outside the paint would put him in the 13th percentile of players who attempted at least 100 close shots and 50 midrange shots last year. Not good, but not historically awful. The thing that sets Rubio apart is his finishing. Or rather lack thereof and you can see it fairly clearly on his shot chart.

His 47.9 FG% at the rim this season was the worst in the league among players with 100 close attempts, and this actually represents a significant recent uptick — through March 1, he was finishing an execrable 44.6% percent of his attempts at the rim. If Rubio were finishing at a league average rate, his overall eFG% would rise to 47.1%, roughly 22nd percentile. In fact, for much of the season, Rubio’s inability to finish and the resulting reluctance to even try was a bigger obstacle to the Wolves’ offense than his sketchy outside shooting.

As the chart shows, he was not good from the outside (right elbow area jumpers in particular being his nemesis), but decent from the other elbow and actually quite decent from right elbow threes. But that big blob of blue in the middle. Perhaps in part because of the fact that teams have scouted his poor finishing ability, Rubio gets to the rim a lot, 43.7% of his field goal attempts are at the rim per NBA.com, 4th highest among regularly appearing NBA point guards. This is good, unless he continues to be the worst finisher in the league.

The shot chart in this post is the work of our own Austin ClemensCheck out shot charts for any NBA player going back to the 1996-1997 season here.

Seth Partnow

Seth Partnow lives in Anchorage, Alaska. He writes about basketball at places like Washington Post's #FancyStats Blog, TrueHoop Network's ClipperBlog. Follow him @SethPartnow and sethpartnow.tumblr.com