NBA rookie Ricky Rubio is causing a stir this season.  He’s an exciting player to watch, pulling off highlight-reel passes on the regular.  He can find an advantage on a fastbreak that didn’t seem to exist mere seconds prior.  So fans love it when he pushes the ball.  But I love it when he doesn’t.

One of the most impressive things about Ricky is his patience.  His Euroleague and international experience shine through, he’s no average rook.  He’ll try to run the ball, but when so many others would keep going, he knows when to pull back.  And that separates him from lesser point guards.

There’s no way to quantify the effect a player’s body language has on their team-mates, but when Ricky recognises the situation and brings the ball back near half-court, a few good things happen to the Minnesota Timberwolves:

  • The team slows down.  They realise, now it’s time to relax, get in our sets and run our offence
  • He instills confidence.  Rubio looks so relaxed, holding the ball 30 feet from the hoop, ready to pry until the defence comes unstuck.  His team-mates know that their opponent will break down somewhere and they have a good chance at a basket
When he waits with the ball and prepares to go, Ricky has that same relaxed, confident, low-shouldered posture that Chris Paul has; a stance that suggests we’ve got this, don’t worry about it.  I feed off it watching at home, it must be massively more powerful to the people on court with him.

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