The team leader and go-to-guy with the game on the line for the Minnesota Timberwolves is all-star center Kevin Love. But with a twice broken hand, Love is out until at least March. So somebody else will have to step up and lead the Timberwolves as they attempt to climb the Western Conference standings. That guy must be Ricky Rubio.
Whether it’s fair or not to the 22-year old Spaniard, he is now the go-to guy. In the absence of Love, Rick Adelman has made it clear that Rubio is his star and will lead his team regardless of the result. But Rubio has been unsuccessful this season when put in that position.
The Timberwolves have had a tough season even when Love was healthy. But prior to Love re-breaking his hand on January 3rd at the Denver Nuggets, the Timberwolves were 13-16. Since he suffered the injury, the team is 3-13. Just because the star is gone, the season doesn’t stop. Another player must step up and that player must be Rubio.
The Timberwolves currently sit 7.5 games behind the Houston Rockets for the eighth spot in the Western Conference. That’s not an insurmountable deficit especially considering that the Rockets have been as inconsistent as anyone this season. If the Timberwolves could reach within striking distance of the eighth seed by mid-March, Love could return and lead them to the postseason.
But in order to achieve that goal, the team must start winning. And in order to start winning the Timberwolves need a new team leader on the court. Adelman has made it clear that no matter where it takes the team, that leader will be Rubio. So Rubio must start to take the reins of the team and lead them back up the standings.