And just like that, the T-Wolves went from a team striving to make the playoffs to a team sitting in its normal mediocrity.
Rookie sensation Ricky Rubio will no longer be dazzling the city of Minnesota with his great passing due to a torn ACL in his left knee that will end his rookie season, the team announced Saturday.
The 2012 Olympics will also be out for Rubio as Pau Gasol and Spain will have to aim for the gold medal without their star point guard.
As an NBA fan, I am sad to see this happen to an up-and-rising Timberwolves team. They only collected 78 wins in the past 4 seasons, averaging 19.5 wins per season. Already exceeding that mark in this shortened season (21-19) and currently standing half a game out of the playoffs in the Western Conference, their first playoff berth since the 2003-2004 NBA season seemed probable.
That idea has been all but dashed.
Rubio has averaged 10.6 points and 8.2 assists during his first year in the league but statistics don’t do him justice. He has been the missing piece to finally push his new team out of the pits of the West.
There is no doubting All-Star Kevin Love’s huge impact on this squad. He provides big time shots for the Wolves and gobbles up the boards (13.8 rpg) every single night. However, he can only do so much. Averaging 20.2 points and 15.2 rebounds last season, he could only bring his team 17 wins. Rubio has exceeded that by four in only 40 games.
Without Rubio, unfortunately, this team doesn’t have a chance of making the playoffs with the other competitive Western Conference teams. Denver, Utah, Houston or Portland will most likely grab this last playoff spot as the Timberwolves will be on the outside looking in.
In the 2010 playoffs, the Thunder landed as the eighth seed, giving them the playoff experience they needed before making it to the Western Conference Finals and eventually becoming one of the elite teams in the West. Minnesota could have taken this first step towards becoming an elite team in the West.
What about now? They will have to settle on another season ended in April.
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