Each week, we’ll ask our stable of scribes to weigh in on the three most important NBA topics of the day — and then give you a chance to step on the scale, too, in the comments below.
Are we in danger of hyperventilating over Ricky Rubio?
Steve Aschburner: Look, I was in the building for Rubio’s return game. There was a playoff type of buzz — or a facsimile of what Minnesota fans remember as a playoff buzz, since it’s been a while — and Rubio seized the moment. He looked to be the same clever, charismatic playmaker as before his nasty knee injury, and he made the other Timberwolves better. Sure, he’s on a minutes leash early in this comeback. Sure, he’ll have ups and downs directly related to his layoff. And sure, there will be a learning curve as both he and Kevin Love blend back into what Rick Adelman‘s coaching. But Minnesota is far better off with Rubio than without him, and there’s nothing breathless about that.
Fran Blinebury: You’re a bit late with that question. The hype has been been in overdrive since the Timberwolves made Rubio the fifth pick in the 2009 draft. Of course, the kid delivered last season and, yes, he’s worth all of the heavy breathing.
Jeff Caplan: Yes we are and for good reason. His debut against the Mavs was fabulous, complete with a no-look, behind-the-back (and through the legs?) pass into the lane for a layup. He instantly makes the Wolves a must-watch and will land them in the playoffs.
Scott Howard-Cooper: Not even close. His story is unique — European sensation at a young age, lottery pick, the wait to get him to the NBA, the wait to get him back to the NBA after the knee injury, a key role on a rising team –- and so it gets a lot of attention. But this is light years from Rubiosanity. This is far from the daily drama, for years, of the Lakers.
John Schuhmann: Rubio can certainly provide a nightly highlight or two and help the Wolves with their offense, which ranks 20th through Tuesday. And if they can climb a couple of notches on that end, they can be a dangerous team, because they’ve been excellent defensively. But I think expectations should be tempered. According to one athletic trainer I’ve spoken to, a torn ACL is a two-year injury. So we can’t really expect Rubio to be at 100 percent until early 2014.
Sekou Smith: Yes. And we have been since he was about 15. But that’s what the sports world does with phenoms. Rubio has otherworldly talents that a knee injury won’t diminish. His vision and ability to facilitate for those around him makes him more than just an intriguing prospect. It gives him the ability to lift a team, when healthy and fully matured, in ways that only a select few players can. I’m not suggesting to you that his presence alone makes the Timberwolves a contender or anything like that, but for a team trying to take the step from the background into the light, he can be the difference. How’s that for hyperventilating?