The ballyhooed return of Ricky Rubio to the Minnesota Timberwolves was somewhat of a letdown. Rubio was returning from a torn ACL he suffered at the end of the 2011-2012 NBA regular season and seemed to have a good deal of rust and a lack of confidence in his healing knee.
In his 17 games in December and January, Rubio averaged just 5.1 points, 5.2 assists, two rebounds and 1.6 steals per game. He also shot an atrocious 27.7 percent from the field. That’s certainly not what the Timberwolves were hoping for when he returned to the floor. But through Minnesota’s eight games in February, he’s looked much more like the player they hoped for and that they need him to be.
He’s averaged 13.5 points, 9.3 assists, 3.5 rebounds and 2.1 steals per game in February, as well as improved his field goal percentage to 41 percent. The assists and steals are the most critical. Rubio isn’t on this team to be a scorer, but rather to be a floor-general and passer. And even though 41 percent is inefficient, it’s an improvement from earlier this season and from the 35.7 percent he shot last season. He’s also playing and cutting with more confidence in his game and his knee, which is definitely a critical part of his improvement.
The question that remains is why are the Timberwolves 2-6 in February if Rubio has been playing so solidly? Quite simply, Rubio may finally be getting back to full-health, but the rest of this Minnesota team is not.
Minnesota is still without their superstar Kevin Love who has played in only 18 games this season due to a broken hand and will be without him until the middle of March. They’ve also lost Brandon Roy and Chase Budinger for the rest of the season. And don’t forget the nagging injuries that have affected Nikola Pekovic over the season and are currently affecting Andrei Kirilenko. This team is the definition of injury-ravaged.
Coming into the season, the T’Wolves were looked at as a potential sleeper team in the Western Conference. But after all of these injuries, they find themselves at 19-31 and at the bottom of the standings. It’s doable for a team to survive with a few injuries, but when everyone on the team is going down, that’s near impossible to weather through.
By the time Love rejoins Rubio and the Timberwolves potentially get back to semi-full strength, the season will probably be lost for Minnesota. But Rubio is doing the best he can right now as one of the few healthy Timberwolves. There’s just only so much a man can do sometimes.