In the 2009 NBA Draft, the Minnesota Timberwolves had three of the top twenty picks, two in the top ten.
For a team that had just suffered through a miserable 24-58 season, building through the draft seemed like a good idea, even if it was considered a rather weak draft (with the notable exception of Blake Griffin).
Part of that draft was the Spanish phenom PG Ricky Rubio.
Only 18 at the time, Rubio shined against the United States in the 2008 Olympic Gold Medal game.
Blessed with incredible passing ability as well as a cool demeanor, Rubio looked to be the point guard of the future for Minnesota, who took him with the fifth overall pick of the 2009 NBA Draft.
Fast-forward almost two years after the Timberwolves chose Rubio, and the Spanish star still has not stepped foot in Minnesota, instead opting to play in Spain and attempt to work his way into a bigger market.
The only problem is that Rubio has played poorly in Spain.
In twenty Euroleague games, Rubio has shot a measly 31% from the field and an appalling 22% from 3-point range. His assist-to-turnover ratio has dipped below 2:1, and, while he does have good size at 6-foot-4, he is only 180 pounds, which raises serious concerns about whether or not he will be able to handle the rigors of the NBA game.
While waiting for Rubio, the Timberwolves have put up a ghastly 32-132, a losing percentage of nearly 80%.
Timberwolves management appears to have no direction for the team, instead simply adding random pieces together, regardless of strengths, weaknesses or the position they play.
Is there any other explanation for how Kevin Love, Michael Beasley and Anthony Randolph are all on the same roster?
General Manager David Kahn seems to have put all of his eggs in Rubio’s basket, and as Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reported yesterday, Rubio has agreed to join Minnesota for next season, if there is a next season.
The question is: does it matter anymore?
Rubio’s stock has dropped significantly since that draft nearly two years ago, and now very serious questions and doubts linger over whether or not he can actually make it in the NBA. Minnesota’s own players are not even sure they’ll see Rubio join the team, as Kevin Love tweeted yesterday “Ricky Rubio huh? I’ll believe it when I see it…”
As for myself, I think Rubio will go down somewhere behind the infamous Darko Milicic as one of biggest international busts of the past twenty-five years.
At his current weight, bigger and stronger point guards like Chauncey Billups and Tyreke Evans will abuse him on the low block. With his inability to shoot, teams will be able to play off of him like they do Rajon Rondo; only it remains unclear if he can make them pay by getting to the basket like Rondo does.
And will his lack of athleticism hurt him in the modern NBA, where freak athletes like John Wall and Russell Westbrook are the future of the point guard position?
None of this is to say that Ricky Rubio cannot make it in the NBA.
There’s a chance that he turns out to be as good as advertised, and helps the T-Wolves on their rebuilding path.
But, for a team that has been mismanaged the way the Timberwolves have, losing seems to have become a part of the culture.
With no evidence to suggest Rubio is going to help turn around the hopes of this dismal franchise, it might be an even colder winter in Minnesota this year.