HANG TIME NEW JERSEY – While the Chicago Bulls proceed with caution in regard to Derrick Rose‘s recovery, the Minnesota Timberwolves are optimistic about the eventual return of Ricky Rubio.
Rubio tore his ACL on March 9, 50 days before Rose. The Bulls see Rose coming back after the All-Star break, while Wolves owner Glen Taylor believes that Rubio could be a little ahead of that relative timeline, as Charley Walters of the Pioneer Press writes…
Taylor said he could only guess when Rubio will be healthy enough to play after coming off March knee surgery. The Wolves will open the season Nov. 2.
“The doctors said he was progressing faster than normal, and normal was supposed to be in January,” Taylor said Tuesday, Aug. 14, a day before heading to China on a two-week charity mission. “Faster than normal would be December. He’s going to start running and stuff in a few weeks.”
That’s good news for Wolves fans, because their team was not the same without Rubio last season, going 5-20 after his injury. You’d think that they would have fallen off offensively, but a look at the numbers reveals that Rubio’s absence was felt much more on the other end of the floor.
Wolves efficiency before and after Rubio injury
Pace = Possessions per 48 minutes
OffRtg = Points scored per 100 possessions
DefRtg = Points allowed per 100 possessions
NetRtg = Point differential per 100 possessions
The Wolves allowed only 99.6 points per 100 possessions with Rubio on the floor, but 105.3 with Luke Ridnour on the floor and 104.9 with J.J. Barea on the floor, quite a discrepancy from one point guard to the others.
The good news is that, at the start of this season, the Wolves can do a better job of making up for Rubio’s absence on defense. They key, of course, is the addition of Andrei Kirilenko.
Kirilenko’s length, athleticism and instincts make him one of the better defenders in the league. Over his last five seasons in Utah, the Jazz were much better defensively with Kirilenko on the floor (103.0 points per 100 possessions allowed) than with him on the bench (106.6).
Offensively, the Wolves weren’t great without Rubio last season, but they weren’t terrible either. And Kirilenko should make a similar defensive impact with the Wolves as he made with the Jazz. That’s why Minnesota might be able to get by and stay in the Western Conference playoff picture until Rubio gets back.
Of course, when he’s healthy, we’ll all be happy to see Rubio on the floor again.