SALT LAKE CITY – Utah point guard Ricky Rubio started this new NBA season with his new team shooting and scoring where he left off with the Timberwolves last season, when he ended the final two months looking like a changed player.
But in the past six games, including Monday's 109-98 loss to his former team, Rubio's shooting statistics reverted to a mean that purportedly was a big reason Wolves President of Basketball Operations and coach Tom Thibodeau traded him last summer to the Jazz for a first-round pick and the cap space needed to sign free-agent Jeff Teague.
After he scored 30 points in a game vs. Portland, Rubio has gone 14-for-56 from the floor — including 1-for-23 on three-pointers — in the next six games.
That's 25 percent from the floor, if you're keeping score at home. It's also something Jazz coach Quin Snyder said he won't worry about.
"Ricky, I don't want to overanalyze his shot," Snyder said before Rubio went 1-for-7 Monday, including 0-for-6 on threes. "I think Ricky's value to our team first and foremost is his leadership and his mind and his ability to get people involved. I don't want him to define himself by his shot. I want him to get people involved and when he's got a shot, make the right read. Those are the things he's really good at doing.
"When he's open, I want him to shoot. But more than anything, I want him to run our team and defend."
Rubio is averaging 14.5 points on 38 percent shooting (28 percent from three-point range), 5.8 assists and 4.1 rebounds.
The Jazz moved up 11 spots in last summer's NBA draft so they could select Louisville's 6-3 shooting guard Donovan Mitchell 13th overall. It's looking like an astute move: Mitchell is averaging nearly 14 points a game this season and has had games of 28 and 26 points so far.
Thibodeau watched Mitchell practice last season in Louisville, when the Wolves played a preseason game there.
"Really impressive," Thibodeau said. "Good toughness, plays both sides of the ball, can play multiple positions, great demeanor."
The Jazz recalled St. Cloud's own Nate Wolters for Monday's game from their G League team about 10 minutes away. He's signed to one of those new two-way roster spots.
"There's a mind-set and a work ethic there that really fits what we want for a guy in that two-way spot," Snyder said.
Wolves second-year guard Marcus Georges-Hunt will deliver meals Tuesday afternoon for Open Arms, a Minneapolis nonprofit that prepares free, nutritious meals to people living with life-threatening diseases.
"I've always wanted to do that if I got to this level," he said. "I just like to give something back."
He said it
Karl-Anthony Towns, when asked if he should have taken an open three at a crucial point in Saturday's loss at Phoenix: "Um, I don't know. It felt good coming off my hand. Obviously, I haven't shot it well at all, but I have confidence. You know, it didn't go in. I probably should have passed it."
• Snyder started Jonas Jerebko instead of Thabo Sefolosha to counter Taj Gibson, whom Snyder calls "a true, true power forward in the old-school sense of the word."
• Wolves forward Nemanja Bjelica visited Rubio at his Salt Lake City-area home Sunday and came away impressed with the mountain views. "Beautiful," Bjelica said.
• Shabazz Muhammad turned 25 Monday and rookie Justin Patton sang him "Happy Birthday" after the morning shootaround.
• Former Wolves guard and Gophers star Bobby Jackson scouted the game for Sacramento.
• The Wolves' Iowa G League team Monday acquired former first-round pick Perry Jones III as a returning rights player.
•Wolves reserve center Gorgui Dieng missed his second consecutive game because of a sprained right index finger. "But he's getting better," Thibodeau said.
•Veteran center Cole Aldrich was in uniform if needed to play in an emergency, but did not because of a sprained ankle.