Top Rookie Rubio; Pekovic Blossoms

02 February 2012

EUROPEANS IN THE NBA

6. Ricky Rubio (Spain)
Ricky Rubio has already collected his first individual award in the NBA, positioning himself as a candidate for Rookie of the Year

TOP ROOKIE RUBIO

Ricky Rubio collected honours in Europe as if it were his hobby.

Already he has an award in the NBA after being named the Western Conference Rookie of the Month for January.

The 21-year-old, a three-time FIBA Europe Young Player of the Year, is playing with the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Among NBA rookies, the former Joventut Badalona and Regal Barcelona guard ranks first in assists (8.9apg) and steals (2.24spg) and is fifth in scoring (11.4ppg).

A member of the Spain teams that won EuroBasket gold in 2009 and 2011, Rubio was worth the price of admission in four games in particular in January.

At Washington on the 8th, he scored 13 points, dished out 14 assists and corralled six rebounds in a 93-72 win over the Wizards.

Six days later at Atlanta, Rubio had 18 points and 12 assists in a 93-91 defeat to the Hawks.

At the defending NBA champions Dallas Mavericks 11 days later, Rubio had 17 points, 12 assists, seven boards and four steals in a 105-90 T-Wolves victory.

Then against Tony Parker and the San Antonio Spurs on the 27th, Rubio poured in 18 points, handed out 10 assists and came down with four rebounds in an 87-79 Minnesota triumph.

His six steals in a game against the Detroit Pistons on the 18th also raised eyebrows because it was the highest total for a Minnesota player since Kevin Garnett's seven steals in a game five years ago against the Los Angeles Clippers.


PEKOVIC BLOSSOMS

It's taken a while, but Montenegro national team center Nikola Pekovic is finally getting a chance to play and show NBA fans how good he is.

14. Nikola Pekovic (Montenegro)
Nikola Pekovic has been given more playing time by Minnesota coach Rick Adelman and has taken full advantage with some convincing performances

Timberwolves coach Rick Adelman gave Pekovic more than 29 minutes in Wednesday's game against Indiana and he responded with 13 points and 12 boards.

The red-hot Pacers (15-6) won, 109-99.

In the victory over the Spurs on 27 January, Pekovic played 33 minutes and had 14 points and 10 rebounds while two days later in a five-point defeat to the Los Angeles Lakers, he had 13 points and nine boards in 20 minutes.

Pekovic played 19 minutes in a win over Houston on 30 January and finished with eight points and seven rebounds.


PARKER BACK TO BEST

France's Tony Parker has had a solid year with San Antonio, and that's been essential for the Spurs with Manu Ginobili out of action with a fractured metatarsal in his left hand.

Parker is averaging 17 points and 7.7 assists but had tough outings against Dallas on 29 January and the following day against Memphis.

He was a combined four of 20, scoring nine points against Dallas and five against Memphis.

Parker had 24 points on nine of 18 shooting from the floor on Wednesday against Houston, a 99-91 Spurs (14-9) win.

Houston's Slovenia point guard, Goran Dragic, has been coming off the bench and averaging 7.9 points, 3.7 assists and 0.7 steals.


GREAT GORTAT

Poland's Marcin Gortat has well and truly arrived as an NBA center.

As the starting pivot of the Phoenix Suns (8-13), Gortat is pouring in 15.3 points, hauling in 10.10 rebounds and blocking 1.7 shots per game - all career highs.


DENG STILL OUT

Great Britain international Luol Deng hasn't played for the Chicago Bulls since January 21 because of a torn wrist ligament.

Deng was averaging 15.9 points and 7.5 rebounds for the Bulls, whose 18 victories are the most in the league


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