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Updated: December 17th, 2013 10:29am
Numbers Game: For Ricky Rubio, the elephant in the room hasn't budged

Numbers Game: For Ricky Rubio, the elephant in the room hasn't budged

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by Phil Mackey

In the Minnesota Timberwolves' 101-97 loss to the Boston Celtics on Monday night, Ricky Rubio had one of his worst shooting performances of the season -- 2-for-12, including 0-for-4 from the restricted area.

At least two of those missed shots in the restricted area were point-blank, uncontested layups.

Rubio is unquestionably one of the best passers in the game. He also leads the NBA in steals, and he rebounds well for a guard. Rubio offers a ton of value, and he is still only 23 years old, but the elephant in the room hasn't budged.

Rubio is still a terrible shooter.

36%: Rubio's career shooting percentage through 123 games and 1,119 shots. That percentage has not budged from season to season. He came into the league shooting 35.7% in his rookie season and that mark sits at 36.1% in his third year. To his credit, Rubio is hitting on 38% of his three-point attempts.

Among players who have taken at least 1,000 NBA shots since 1980, Rubio owns the third-worst shooting percentage behind only Bobby Hurley (35.3%) and Keith McLeod (35.7%). In other words, Rubio is one of the worst shooters the NBA has seen over the past 30 years.

38%: Rubio's shooting percentage (29-for-76) this season on shots inside the restricted area - nearly point-blank range. He shot just 41% from the restricted area last season. Needless to say, that's just atrocious.

Chris Paul shoots 62% in the restricted area. Tony Parker 57%. Kyrie Irving 50%. Rajon Rondo, a horrible outside shooter, makes 55% of his shots in the restricted area.

To break it down further, Rubio averages missing two point-blank shots per game.

If Rubio had made just 10 more of those close-range shots - to get to 50% in the restricted area -- his overall shooting percentage would be 41%, which still isn't great, but much more serviceable than where he's at now.

Rubio doesn't even need to become a better shooter from outside. He needs to quit missing layups.

65%: The percentage of made shots in the restricted area by Wolves opponents this year - the highest mark of any team in the NBA.

That's some bad defense.

The Wolves, on average, allow 19 made shots in the restricted area per game. The Bulls, by comparison, allow just 14.

That trend clearly isn't going unnoticed, as Rick Adelman played Gorgui Dieng 13 minutes on Monday night (in part because of Nikola Pekovic's foul trouble). Dieng didn't block any shots, but he did alter a couple.

34%: The Wolves' team three-point percentage, which ranks 21st in the NBA heading into Tuesday's games. The Wolves barely scratched 30% from downtown last year, so they'll take the improvement.

Chase Budinger could add another long-range threat when he returns at some point in December or January too.

Phil Mackey is a columnist for He co-hosts "Mackey & Judd" from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. weekdays on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
Email Phil | @PhilMackey | Mackey & Judd