Amidst a five game losing streak, the Timberwolves have found themselves in a mini free fall of sorts. Injuries, lack of depth and poor execution have been the culprits. After beginning the season 5-2 without Ricky Rubio and All Star Kevin Love, three games in the Wolves current losing streak have come with Love in the lineup, who returned to action surprisingly early from a broken hand. It is apparent the Wolves need all the help they can get in the form of returning injured stars.
Timberwolves beat writer for the Strib Jerry Zgoda recently wrote that Rubio may take a page out of Love’s book and return earlier than expected as well. As Zgoda surmises, Rubio’s visit to his surgeon today in Vail could result in the point guard being cleared for practice. The appointment in Vail is scheduled for the next three days, so we should find out more news by mid-week. If things look positive to his surgeon Dr. Richard Steadman, we could find Rubio’s practice activities increasing slowly over the next week. In the end, the anticipated December 25th return for the young phenom could be later than his actual return date. Minnesota needs him too. The Wolves defense could probably use Rubio even more than the offense could.
“When he was healthy last year, he was very good keeping the people in front of him,” head coach Rick Adelman said. “He was able to control the guard he was guarding and not let him get around him. He was in the Top 5 in steals. He was always in the right spot defensively as a team defender, too. He’ll help us. He’s give us a little more size there. His instincts will help us a lot.”
While Rubio’s return should offer a jolt of energy to the struggling Wolves, the short-term jolt shouldn’t be sacrificed for the long term goals of this team. Playoff reps are important for any team and it it would be great to have this young team experience playoff games this season, but not if it jeopardizes something in the future. The quick recovery of Adrian Peterson back to phenom levels shouldn’t fool anyone into thinking it will anything less than painstaking for Rubio to return to form. Patience is the most important thing for the Wolves right now. The fans should be patient too.