It’s frustrating, right?
For two years, we’ve had hope that the misfortunes of this franchise, which have often been used as setups to punch lines about the Wolves, were going to turn around. The Wolves have a roster that includes the number two pick of a recent draft, the best power forward in the NBA, a point guard prodigy that has been competing at a professional level since he was 14, and one of the best coaches of the past 25 years. We’ve had a big man made of granite emerge from the depths of the roster.
But the Wolves have also had a horrible run of injury “luck” in the past calendar year. Ricky Rubio tore his knee, Nikola Pekovic had bone spurs, Kevin Love had a concussion, Love broke his hand, Chase Budinger tore part of his knee, Brandon Roy had the same issues, Andrei Kirilenko got dinged up, Ricky Rubio had a back issue, Kevin broke his hand again, Pek strained his groin, AK hurt his calf, then his quad, Pek strained his abdominal, etc. Let’s not forget the scary stretch for Rick Adelman in which his wife had medical issues, which she hopefully can put far behind her very soon.
It isn’t the worst run of injuries in NBA history but it’s also something that has completely derailed any momentum this franchise was supposed to be building. I feel like I’ve written plenty of “hey, let’s be patient” posts over the past couple months, and I believe in that sentiment. It’s also something that is incredibly hard to do as a fan of a franchise that has been down in the dumps and not even close to the playoffs for years. And while I assume this thing will be turned around next season (assuming Rick is able to continue coaching the roster is still in good shape), it’s merely hope that things will eventually correct themselves, as currently constructed.
Benjamin Hochman of the Denver Post just had a post about Ricky Rubio and in it, he had a fantastic quote from George Karl about the situation of the Wolves and the relative NBA inexperience of Rubio that puts things into great perspective:
“Organizations are probably frustrated with the injuries. Coaching staffs are probably frustrated with not winning,” Karl said, “but sometimes injuries can be a blessing because you can grow up without the stress of winning. Getting on the court and having repetition.
“He basically hasn’t even had a whole NBA season yet, and the more you play, the better you get.”
Rubio isn’t your typical young player in the NBA. He’s been a professional since he was 14, played in the Olympics against the best point guard of this generation with a gold medal on the line when he was 17, won the Defensive Player of the Year award in the Spanish ACB league (the second best league in the world) when he was 18, and helped win a Euroleague title at the age of 19. However, that doesn’t mean that growing up on the NBA level without the stress of winning might not help him in some way.
We’ve all seen his comments and read his words about how badly he wants to win. We’ve seen the desperation he’s played with on the court over the past couple months as his knee has become whole again and he’s attempted to do any kind of frantic and disruptive play to galvanize himself and his team to a victory that has rarely materialized. But maybe there is a good reason why the team has to struggle now and learn how to win at its most futile of times before it can learn with the intended pieces of the core of this organization.
Last year’s injuries at the end of the year turned out to be a blessing in disguise. It showed the warts of the roster makeup as the team showed a listless desire to finish out the season (aside from guys like J.J., Luke, and a couple others). It caused a roster overhaul during the offseason that definitely upgraded the talent and depth at the Wolves’ disposal. Unfortunately for this season, the depth has been ravaged by tears, breaks, and strains and a productive offseason has left this team with very little to consistently compete with.
Will the injuries of this season bring about something positive in an indirect way like we saw last season? I’m not sure. But I think George Karl provides some intelligent perspective there. Sometimes injuries can be a blessing. It’s a frustrating way to get a blessing, but we’ll just have to hope we continue to see growth through adversity.