Kung Fu Fighting For A Starring Role
Is David Kahn even thinking about Jonny Flynn?
Jonny Flynn must be feeling like he’s starring in a big budget Hollywood action movie. Only, he doesn’t always win every fight he’s in. Or get in a bind because it was his fault, but his partner’s doing. Or, worse yet, he doesn’t get the girl. Basically, Flynn is Jackie Chan in those Rush Hour movies — he has a ton of physical talent, works hard, and yet it’s the other guy who gets most of the attention.
I’m not saying that Chris Tucker doesn’t deserve some of the shine he gets… OK, I’m saying that Chris Tucker doesn’t deserve some of the shine he gets. But think about it. After lucking out with the first Rush Hour movie, Tucker didn’t do any other film projects besides the Rush Hour sequels… and for a ton of money. In fact, Tucker was the one who basically held up production of the sequels because of his financial demands. All the while, Chan was ready and willing to get to work.
Take away the annoying high-pitched voice, difference in melatonin levels, and acting ability (well, maybe not that last one) and you can see how Ricky Rubio is Chris Tucker here. Rubio has all the flash that screams for attention (valid or not), financial demands, and would probably never think of visiting Minnesota unless Prince invited him. And he is holding up the production of a new Minnesota Timberwolves team that wants to feature him as the star.
But, what about Jonny Flynn?!
Flynn is ready to throw down, execute flawless roundhouse kicks that would make Chuck Norris say, “damn,” and get busy tiger style. To translate the analogy, I’m talking about putting on a show on the court — dribble penetrating and kicking the rock to the wing, attacking the basket like it made fun of his mom, and not being afraid to have the testicular fortitude like the WWE’s Mankind to handle the pill and taking shots during crunch time.
It’s a small sample size when compared to Chan’s filmography, but look at Flynn’s body of work at Syracuse where he averaged 17.4 ppg (on 46 percent shooting), 6.7 apg and 1.4 spg in 37.3 minutes per in 38 games his sophomore (and final) season and you can see why Flynn was drafted sixth overall by the T-Wolves. And his 15 ppg and 7.4 apg in under 28 minutes of play in five summer league games certainly cemented that Flynn is ready to make an impact in the NBA this season.
But Rubio was drafted just before him.
Just like Tucker’s filmography juxtaposed with Chan’s, Rubio’s body of work is limited compared to Flynn’s. But props are due to Rubio for a great showing against the Redeem Team during the Beijing Olympics where he made everyone look slow. We’ll call that performance his Friday and forever dub Rubio as Smokey.
That said, Rubio’s experience is not as cumbersome as you might think for someone that’s been playing professional ball since he turned the age (15) where most of us were at best able to breathe around girls, played Nintendo 64, and had this uncomfortable attraction to Natalie Portman in “The Professional.” Or was that just me? In any case, since his debut with Joventut Badalona during the ’05-06 season, Rubio has played in 155 games according to Euroleague.net, including 16 games of Euroleague play in ’06-07 and 16 games of Eurocup in ’07-08. I’m not an expert in European basketball, so feel free to lambaste my lack of knowledge in the comments, but I would think that with regular season games, playoffs, AAU/traveling team, and the various prep showcase camps, Flynn played just as many games from the same age as Rubio, if not more. The real differences? Flynn was a starter playing a lot of minutes and the type of game played.
In Europe, it’s all about skill-set and a practical sense of team-first as opposed to here in the States where it has become more about speed, athleticism, and an idealistic sense of team-first (it’s OK, just admit it). The styles are as different as Alyson Hannigan and Megan Fox. Hannigan is “girl-next-door” cute, does well in ensemble casts, and gives steady and consistent performances while Fox is ridiculously hot, naturally steals scenes, and you’ll take the empty, but full of eye candy performances that she gives. Both are good, but have their differences. We know that Flynn can make the jump to the NBA because he’s been playing that style for years, but can Rubio? Well, we won’t find out for at least two years and because of the NBA rookie scale, probably three.
Perfect for Flynn to take the starting point guard position and hit the ground running from the beginning!
But then, the equivalent of having Roselyn Sanchez in Rush Hour 2 happens when the T-Wolves almost immediately sign free-agent Ramon Sessions, a point guard, when the team is spurned by Rubio. Great. Just when you think Flynn is going to get to do all he can to be a star, someone else takes some of his shine away. I don’t care what Minnesota’s decision-maker, David Kahn says about playing small ball in the backcourt (at first it was Rubio and Flynn; now Sessions and Flynn) because it won’t work. Sure both players are able to score to go along with their dime-dropping ability, but how about defensively? It’s the equivalent of having two midget wrestlers wrestling two regular-sized people. (… and if there are midgets reading SLAM who will say the politically correct term is “short person,” how the heck did you get into basketball? It would be like me being into horse jockeys.)
Anyway, there have been very few small backcourts that have succeeded in the NBA with them being more the exception than the rule – Isiah Thomas/Joe Dumars and Michael Adams/Fat Lever come to mind to this old school NBA lover. Plus the T-Wolves have Wayne Ellington to develop at the two-guard. I don’t expect Flynn to have as much of an impact as I thought he would now that Sessions is in town. At times it’ll be hard to deny the ability to break bricks/break defenses, perform acrobatic moves/getting to and finishing at the rim, and help save the day/knock down daggers with seconds left, but the way the movie has been playing out, Flynn will for immediate scenes, play the sidekick.
Keep kicking, Jonny.
Dennis Velasco is the lead writer at Barkley’s Mouth as well as Talk Stupid. Feel free to contact him at dv[AT]barkleysmouth[DOT]com. Also check out the Four Fingers Of Fantasy 2009 fantasy basketball draft guide for the price of a happy meal… you need this guide, not the extra weight.