If there is such a thing as a real life Shakespearean tragedy, the 2012-2013 NBA season for the Minnesota Timberwolves would have to be put in that category. Player after player for the Wolves has gone down to injury, including Kevin Love, Chase Budinger, Brandon Roy, Andrei Kirilenko and Nikola Pekovic, and it has resulted in a largely disappointing season. Ricky Rubio has been the one consistent positive since he returned from his ACL injury, especially since he’s regained confidence in his knee.
Rubio has played in 40 games for Minnesota this season and is averaging 9.6 points, 7.2 assists, 3.8 rebounds and 2.2 steals per game. His efficiency has been a concern, as it was last year. He’s shooting only 36 percent from the floor and an atrocious 20.8 percent from long range. Overall he has played decently since he got back on the floor.
In the month of March, though, Rubio has turned it up a notch. In 10 games this month, Rubio has averaged 13.3 points, 7.6 assists, 5.9 rebounds and 2.5 steals per game. What’s crazy is how great his assists-numbers would be if Minnesota’s healthy players could knock-down open jumpers. Regardless, Rubio has been amazing as of late. As he’s regained the majority of his confidence in the knee that was injured, he’s been playing more aggressively on both ends of the floor. He’s also shown a great deal of maturity by stepping into the leadership role for such an injury-ridden team and never seeming to take plays off.
While he’s been doing so much for Minnesota lately and been truly impressive, Rubio is still having trouble finding his shot. His percentages have improved in March with him shooting 39.8 percent from the field and 28 percent from three, but they still aren’t where Minnesota would like them to be. However, that just opens up the door for Rubio to impress even further.
When he first returned from the injury and for much of last year, Rubio had a tendency to shoot every shot like a line-drive—there was little-to-no arc on his shot. Watching him shoot recently, though, it’s obvious that Rubio is in the process of working on that. Sometimes he’ll still let loose a line-drive, but there are also times nowadays when he puts up near-textbook shots. He and the Wolves would obviously like to see that type of shot more consistently, but there’s no doubt that he’s working on it.
The 22-year-old Spaniard is starting to garner some of the recognition that he deserves. He’s played remarkably considering that the Wolves’ franchise player, Love, hasn’t been on the floor with Rubio much at all. Even though he’s been incredible, there’s obviously still work to be done in regards to his game. That might be the most impressive thing that Rubio has done, though; he’s shown that he’s willing to put in the work to make himself better.