MINNEAPOLIS - Ricky Rubio has become popular around this city rather fast.
Rubio was taken with the fifth pick in the 2009 NBA Draft, one spot after the Sacramento Kings selected Tyreke Evans.
Rubio stayed in Spain while Evans went on to win Rookie of the Year. Rubio is playing his way into the same honor this season, averaging 11 points and 8.3 assists.
Rubio's passing is one of the five things to watch tonight.
1. Rubio's Show
Include Kings coach Keith Smart as one of those impressed by Rubio this season:
"That kid understands where the ball needs to be delivered. He knows how to bait you as a defending big man to stay with him long enough until his guy gets to his spot. He is so far ahead from a point guard standpoint with where he puts the ball for players. His vision window is gigantic because he sees play. He's one of those Pete Maravich type guys that conceptualizes, that sees the play before it happens. He knows if I drive hard at this guy there's going to be a reaction from this person and I'll move the ball there. So he's not waiting to get the reaction, he's already a step ahead in his mind and his processing which is very good for a young player."
2. Shooting better
After shooting 25.6 percent in last Saturday's loss at Dallas, it's hard to imagine the Kings could shoot much worse. Minnesota allows opponents to shoot 43 percent while the Kings are shooting 39.3 percent this season.
3. How Cousins feels
DeMarcus Cousins has been dealing with a nagging cough for almost a week and at times it's made him tired on the floor. He needs to have energy to deal with Kevin Love.
4. Thornton's progress
This is Marcus Thornton's second game back from a left thigh bruise that cost him three games. His legs weren't all the way back last Saturday.
5. Bench roles
The quartet of Francisco Garcia, Donte' Greene, Jason Thompson and Isaiah Thomas played well in the three games Thornton was out. With Thornton back, Jimmer Fredette returned to a reserve role. How will the five of them produce tonight?