The fantasy basketball world received a huge boost on Saturday when Ricky Rubio made his return to the Timberwolves’ lineup in an overtime win over the Mavericks.
The selfless Spaniard tore up his knee on March 9, making it amazing that he got back to work in just over nine months. When you combine Rubio’s speedy recovery with what Vikings’ RB Adrian Peterson is doing — also less than a year removed from major knee surgery — it makes me wonder what’s in the water up there. And as a Minneapolis native, it makes me pump my fist a la Tiger Woods after a big putt.
Rubio was Rubio in his return, recording eight points, four rebounds, nine assists and three steals in 18 minutes off the bench. The plan was for Rubio to play 16-18 minutes, so Wolves’ coach Rick Adelman deftly deployed his franchise PG, bridging the first and second quarters, and then bridging the third and fourth quarters, before bringing Rubio back for the final two-plus minutes of regulation.
Problem is, the excitement about Rubio’s early return (preseason reports had him returning on Christmas at the earliest) was mitigated by the fact that he played tonight in Orlando but is not scheduled to play Tuesday in Miami. According to the Pioneer Press, Rubio has not yet been cleared for both ends of back-to-backs, and he remains on the NBA version of a pitch count when he does play.
So, despite the Wolves playing four games this week, it’s time to move Rubio to the bench for Week 8. Unfortunately, I recommend leaving him on the bench next week as well because the Wolves play only two games.
Rubio becomes startable in Week 10, when the Wolves play three division games against the Jazz, Nuggets and Blazers.
The fantasy basketball world has waited patiently for Rubio’s return and we need to stay patient for another fortnight. That said, it helps me sleep at night knowing that Rubio will rescue two of my four fantasy teams once we ring in the New Year.
Rick Kamla is an anchor on NBA TV. You can follow him on Twitter at @NBATVRick.