Despite offseason promises of a successful 2012-2013 season, the Minnesota Timberwolves are off to a disappointing start. The team has not given up yet, though. In fact, the Wolves are more optimistic than ever, as they prepare for the return of Ricky Rubio.
The Wolves have an 8-9 record, are 3-5 within the Western Conference, and are 0-2 within the Northwest Division. The team is doing better at home, with a 4-3 record, than they are on the road (4-8). Despite these discouraging statistics, Head Coach Rick Adelman and the Wolves expect to make it into the postseason this year.
With several key players benched due to injuries, the Timberwolves are looking forward to playing at full strength. Team leader Kevin Love has only played in five games this season after breaking his right hand, and Rubio is still rehabbing his ACL, which he tore in March. According to bleacherreport.com, only Luke Ridnour has started in every game for the Wolves this season. The lack of consistency among the starting lineup has contributed to the Wolves’ losses thus far.
Another factor contributing to the Timberwolves’ losing record is the team’s inability to stop opposing point guards, and their own point guards’ lack of strong offense. These have been the team’s Achilles’ heels this season, but are both issues that are expected to improve once Rubio returns.
Last season Rubio proved himself to be strong offensively, but even stronger as a defensive player. The Timberwolves have missed Rubio’s defensive prowess in his absence. Rubio shares the team’s sentiment.
“You can’t do more than they said, because if not you can get hurt. So it’s just like being patient, and it’s hard. It is what it is, you just have to work hard. Do what you can, and that’s it,” Rubio told members of the media on Friday, Nov. 30.
Rubio was recently cleared for full-contact practice, although there is no timetable for his return to the court, according to an
official Timberwolves statement. It may still be weeks before Rubio is back to playing with the Wolves.
Since returning from his injury, Love has not been as lethal as he was last year. However, once Rubio returns, the duo is expected to be as potent as they were previously, especially since this year they are surrounded by a strong team. Nikola Pekovic is having a career-year, and new additions Andrei Kirilenko and Alexey Shved have already proven themselves to be assets to the team.
One major advantage of the Timberwolves’ roster is their age. The team is young, with the average age of the roster being 26 years old. Kirilenko, who is 31 years old, is the oldest player on the team. Rubio is the youngest player, as he is just 21 years old. His youth does not mean he is inexperienced, however. Although this is just his second season in the NBA, Rubio has been playing professional basketball since he was 14 years old.
Last season the Wolves had two flashy stars- Love and Rubio- who made headlines, but this season a strong team surrounds those stars. The Timberwolves are hoping that this strength throughout their roster will help them to play more efficiently once Rubio returns.
If everyone on the roster can recover from their injuries, stay healthy, and continue to play well, the Timberwolves have a legitimate chance to be a threat in the postseason.