Rubio: 'Every year you have to prove yourself'
The Spurs landed LaMarcus Aldridge, the Mavs thought they snagged DeAndre Jordan, and the Kings stocked their court full of a dangerous duo in Cousins and Rondo.
Back home in Minnesota the biggest addition was PF Karl-Anthony Towns (the second first overall pick for the Timberwolves in 2 years). Lauren Moranor of Sports World Report asserts that the Timberwolves are “moving on with a younger group of players.”
The average age of players on the past 2 championship teams have been 26 and 29 respectively, which is older than the average age of 60% of NBA teams (hispanosnba.com).
While the young bloods give new life to the team, the Timberwolves need to depend on veteran leadership now more than ever.
Leading the charge is the cold and hot Ricky Rubio. Injury plagued seasons provoked trade rumors involving Rubio that spread like wildfire.
NBA analyst Ric Bucher launched an entire Bleacher Report video explaining where Rubio might land, but ended with this interesting comment:
“Rubio makes an awful lot of sense in Minnesota with the pieces they have. And, while we think of him being an older player, he’s only 24.”
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The Wolves drafted Tyus Jones in the 2nd round of the draft and veteran Andre Miller.
But these players are not suitable for big time minutes. Jones is fresh out of college. To put all your money on a young untested rookie would be ridiculous.
Jones even admitted he appreciates the veteran leadership Kevin Garnet gives to the team. “He’s just telling me to take advantage of the opportunity…I’m looking to learn from him everyday,” Jones told Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe.
Every season brings with it new opportunities. But forgetting previous lessons prevents players from growing into leadership roles.
Without that leadership on the floor the Timberwolves suffer. The Timberwolves without Rubio last season were outscored by 6.7 points per 100 possessions according to NBA.com. A healthy Rubio dished out 8.8 assists per game.
The next closest player (Zach LaVine) averaged only 3.6 per game. Rubio excels at facilitating on the court. He finds the open players and delivers the ball to the best spots on the floor. Without that direction the Timberwolves struggle at finding open shots.
“Who better than Ricky to be the one leading the team,” said Timberwolves GM Milt Newton.
“He’s one of the best facilitators in the NBA. We’ve got a young team of guys that are athletic, that are going to get up and down. And we’re going to utilize those talents they have. Who better than Ricky to be the one leading the charge, pushing the pace.”
With such a young group of talented core players, Rubio knows the time for talk is over. This year is the time to prove that the Timberwolves as a unit are ready to make a jump from a team on the mend to a force to be reckoned with.
“Every year you have to prove yourself,” Rubio told sports reporter Marcus Fuller of TwinCities.com. “Last season I went down really quick. That’s one of the goals this season, to finally lead this team to the playoffs.”