Archives For Ricky Rubio

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When a team is 14-48 and playing out the string, digging for interesting angles to write about can become rather burdensome. Such is life for the Wolves’ scribe nowadays. The novelty of Kevin Garnett’s return has worn off. The always entertaining Shabazz Muhammad, who was in the middle of a breakout year, is done for the season. Gorgui Dieng has sort of plateaued lately. Gary Neal is playing pretty well, hoping to earn a nice contract this summer, but that topic doesn’t move the needle much. It’s always fun to dive into how Andrew Wiggins is playing, but that’s been done beautifully in many places already.

Thanks to the magic of NBAwowy, I was able to find something rather intriguing. (Note: I don’t know any of the people behind that website, nor am I being compensated to plug it. I just think it’s cool as hell, and a great tool for deep dives like this.) Because Ricky Rubio sat for 42 consecutive games, we’re able to split the season into a few different segments: 1) early season with Rubio, 2) Rubio’s absence, 3) Rubio’s return. During the times Ricky’s been available, he’s been the primary point guard, and when he wasn’t, it was Mo Williams. The common thread behind the two was Zach LaVine, who made a few spot starts, but has mostly served as a backup.

How has the offense functioned under the direction of each guy? Continue Reading…

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For some reason, the 14-win Timberwolves have found a relatively strange level of success against the 41-win Portland Trail Blazers this season. They managed to beat the Blazers back in December amidst the flurry of injuries to Ricky Rubio, Nikola Pekovic, and Kevin Martin, ending what was a 6-game losing streak.

While injuries and losing streaks were also there for last night’s win over the Trail Blazers, the situation was different this time around. Rubio, Martin, and Pekovic are back and playing. Andrew Wiggins, who is still discovering what he is (really) good at, is further along in his development. Kevin Garnett is here now.

None of this is to say the Wolves came into the game projected as favorites, but it would explain the high level of confidence they displayed as early as the opening tipoff.

Continue Reading…

Think about the first song you shared with someone. And here’s what I don’t mean: The song that was perfect for the person you pined for or the song you share now with someone. No, I mean a song that was shared property between you and someone else and is no longer — a song that you couldn’t have been more sure meant the same thing to both of you.

Now think about how it probably didn’t. Continue Reading…

Wolves and Grizzlies

A few weeks ago, the Wolves stole a game at home against the Grizzlies in rather dramatic fashion. It was Ricky Rubio’s third game back after his two and a half month absence, and it was immediately clear that Minnesota is a different team when he’s on the floor. The offense becomes functional, the perimeter defense becomes pretty damn good, and perhaps most importantly, there’s a certain level of grit that permeates throughout the roster.

Grit, moxie, chutzpah, toughness, fight – call it what you want. Although statistically immeasurable, it is a vital component to a franchise that is attempting to build a winning culture. The virtue of true toughness, in this sense, isn’t validated by the result. It is present no matter the situation, however good or bad things are going on the floor. Contesting shots, fighting for rebounds, working through screens, communicating with teammates, executing on both ends of the floor – all of it matters.

In that sense, the Grizzlies are a terrific barometer by which to measure these young Timberwolves, because they have it down to an art form. Continue Reading…

02-bulls-kgCredit for this 1995 photo goes to Timberwolvestimeline.com

It was 90’s night in the United Center. In a perfect world, such a night would have coincided with Kevin Garnett’s first road game as a returned member of the Timberwolves. But, despite the nice digs the United Center bring, it’s still not a perfect world, and Kevin Garnett opted to rest tonight in preparation for tomorrow’s home game. To be fair, neither Michael Jordan nor Luc Longley suited up for Chicago, so the playing field was evened out a bit.

Continue Reading…

Limbo, thy name is the first game after the All-Star break with one more to go before the greatest player in franchise history returns as a kind of éminence grise for a rawly talented but still rebuilding team. It wouldn’t have been surprising if the team had mailed it in, but pleasingly they didn’t and ended up holding on for a squeaker over the Suns. We’ll get to the Wolves in a moment, but let’s start with the Suns. Continue Reading…

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In somewhat of a surprise flurry of moves, Timberwolves jack of all trades Flip Saunders made the first splash in the NBA’s annual February trade season. Let’s start by looking at what exactly went down:

Deal 1:

Charlotte receives: Mo Williams, Troy Daniels

Minnesota receives: Gary Neal, 2nd round pick

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Deal 2:

Atlanta receives: 2017 1st round pick (Lottery-protected from 2017-2020)

Minnesota receives: Adreian Payne

Continue Reading…

 

grizzlieswolves9“We’re not going to lose this game.”

In the NBA, phrases like that are uttered by a team’s leader. In addition, a leader is able to take those words and make them come true, even if it means he has to put the team on his back and willing his team to a victory.

That phrase, according to Flip Saunders, is what Ricky Rubio said to his team during tonight’s game against the Memphis Grizzlies.

If it wasn’t clear before, it became completely clear during Rubio’s injury-ridden absence: he is the clearcut leader of this team.

Continue Reading…

Here it is. This here Vine is the one thing you must know about last night’s 102-101 win over the Miami Heat if you want to know anything. It is the acme of pure joy, the bellwether of future highlights to come, the spark and grace and fun that promises to one day become a regular occurrence for this team.

But that day is not today. Continue Reading…

RUBIO

While Ricky Rubio was gone – 87 days, 42 games – the Wolves went 6-36, sporting the 4th-worst offense and worst defense (by more than 3 points per 100 possessions) in the NBA over that stretch. There were plenty of injuries to go around and all of them contributed to the slide, but Rubio’s absence was both the longest and most critical.

Without him, Mo Williams was thrust into a starting role, the extremely raw Zach LaVine had to play minutes he wasn’t ready for, Corey Brewer and Robbie Hummel had to make out of position cameos at the point, and a recent D-Leaguer on a 10-day contract (Lorenzo Brown) had to play all but 5 seconds of Saturday night’s game. Point guard defense was nearly nonexistent. The offensive playbook shrunk to 5-15% of its original size (according to Flip Saunders).

Not only were the Timberwolves much less functional without Rubio, they were also a hell of a lot less FUN. There were moments of joy while Rubio was out, most of them provided by Andrew Wiggins, but also random nights from Zach LaVine (in Staples Center versus the Lakers), Mo Williams (52 points at Indiana) and tough battles against the Suns, Rockets, Pacers and Kings. But the consistent spark was gone.

So it was a sight for sore eyes to see reports that he’d make his return on Monday night in Dallas, and especially so when he was on the floor at the opening tip. The minutes restriction aside (more on that later), Ricky Rubio was back, as was the concept of fun. Continue Reading…