HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — Now that the Minnesota Timberwolves have a firm timetable as to when Ricky Rubio will rejoin his teammates on the court, they can move on to the business of crafting a potent attack without one of the best young point guards in the league.
Rubio’s injury and absence last season all but dashed the faint playoff hopes the Timberwolves had. They didn’t have another dynamic playmaker on the team to balance the floor as All-Star power forward (and recent gold medal winner) Kevin Love continued his assault on opposing teams and the stat sheet. But in a summer filled with twists and turns, they did come up with a player capable of not only balancing the floor but taking over games, if his knees hold up, in Brandon Roy.
No offense to Russian rookie point guard Aleksey Shved, who was something of a revelation this summer in London during the Olympics, but the Timberwolves are going to need more than what we think he can give in Rubio’s absence.
If this footage (above) is any indication, Roy appears to be ready to resume the All-Star activities he displayed in Portland, where he starred before knee injury issues forced him to retire before the start of last season.
If he can provide a spark during the first month of the season, Rubio’s return in December should be another swift punch Rick Adelman can add to the Timberwloves’ arsenal this season. The roster is as sound as it’s been in years and the optimism surrounding Rubio’s return is yet another step in a new direction for a franchise that’s been searching for an identity since the Kevin Garnett era ended.
And if there was any doubt about Rubio’s importance to the Timberwolves team that we saw last season, Fox Sports North’s Joan Niesen puts and end to that foolishness:
The Timberwolves missed Rubio last season, more than they might have imagined. They finished with an 18-13 record in games he started and went 8-27 when he didn’t, but no matter how ready they might be for him to rejoin them, patience will be of the essence.
On June 27, Timberwolves president of basketball operations David Kahn said Rubio would be permitted to return to Spain for his rehab after spending the previous three months based in Minneapolis. Even then, Kahn said that training camp, which begins Oct. 2, would be a “pretty accelerated” target for the point guard’s return.
Throughout Rubio’s recovery process, the team has remained positive, if vague, about his return, and Rubio has shared the Timberwolves’ optimism. In his first media appearance after the surgery, Rubio remained overwhelmingly upbeat and confident, and the team has repeatedly assured that it will not rush his recovery.
“You always have to think about everything, but you just have to keep the right (thoughts),” Rubio said in April. “Because if not, you can think, ‘I got hurt. I’m going to be out for six, nine months, and maybe I’m not going to be the player that I was before.’ That’s not the right thing. It can be. But it can be that you are better than you were.”
As much as the folks in the Twin Cities are anticipating Rubio’s return, we still believe that Roy is the guy who will give the Timberwolves the edge they were missing last season, when before and after Rubio’s injury.
They’ve lacked a superstar talent on the wing for a while now. And as good as both Love and Rubio were last season when healthy, there was no one like Roy around to complete the trio.
There is now …