Last night, the Minnesota Timberwolves did something I would have laughed at a week ago. They brought Ricky Rubio back to Minneapolis in a trade that sent their #17 pick to the Oklahoma City Thunder, netting the Spanish Stallion along with the #25 and #28 picks in the first round.
The Wolves would end up moving around a bit more but here is what the final product looked like. It helped make for a fun night.
• Ricky Rubio
• Leandro Bolmaro (via NY)
• James Johnson
• Aleksej Pokusevski (via MN)
• Immanuel Quickley (via MN from OKC)
• 2023 SRP (via LAC from DET)
• Daniel Oturu (via NYK from MN) https://t.co/srpepbkBfA— Jack Borman (@jrborman13) November 19, 2020
Who is 2021 Ricky Rubio?
While the symbolism of bringing Rubio back can’t be denied, we don’t know what his role will be on this new version of the Minnesota Timberwolves. We do know he won’t be the linchpin of this offense like he was for a large part of his 1st stint with the Wolves.
While his role won’t be as big as it was the first time around, it’d be difficult to argue against the now 30-year-old Rubio being better than what the Wolves had from 2011-2017. After leaving Minnesota, something clicked in Ricky’s confidence as a shooter. He started taking more attempts and hitting them more often.
Who knows exactly what clicked in Utah but he was able to carry it over to his time in Phoenix too. The differences are big enough to see with the naked eye, that’s for sure.
So while the Timberwolves hope to not rely on Ricky Rubio as much this time around, he’s clearly proven he can handle it. The more selfish he is offensively, the better his numbers get. Honestly, I did not realize how good Ricky Rubio was with Utah and Phoenix… and they pretty much just gave him back to us. These stats show that Rubio is far better than your average declining veteran.
Where Does Ricky Fit In?
This is the big question. We can slot KAT in at 5, DLo at 1 or 2 and Anthony Edwards at one of the wings. After that, the starting lineup is up in the air.
The first domino that needs to fall is Malik Beasley. There’s a lot going on when you dive into that side of the pool. Obviously, Beasley showed out after Minnesota traded for him last season. Some were even calling for a max deal this offseason. Then, Beasley was arrested for allegedly pointing a rifle at a car parked on the curb outside his Plymouth, MN house, where he happened to be holding A LOT of pot.
If Malik is on this roster and active when the Timberwolves start playing games, he will be starting at a guard/wing position. If not, the door to Rubio starting could swing open.
Leadership + Everything Else
Ricky Rubio clearly still brings more to the playing court than many, including myself, realized. As discussed earlier, we may be getting the best and most productive version of Ricky Rubio, the basketball player, that we’ve ever had in Minnesota. That’s exciting.
But he means a lot more than that to this team and this fanbase. For teammates like Karl Anthony Towns and other youngsters who are trying to figure out how they make it in this league and how they win games regularly, Rubio is a perfect leader to guide them. He’s now seen both sides of that equation.
For the fanbase, Rubio tugs at heartstrings like we haven’t seen since he left. Fans are drawn to him like they haven’t been to KAT or anyone else who has graced this roster after him. More people will watch and cheer for this team strictly because Ricky Rubio is playing on it. And we all know the Wolves need plenty of help in that department.
Here’s a Ricky Rubio + KAT highlight tape just for the fun of it…
Flashback to Ricky Rubio & KAT wreaking havoc in Minnesota 🐺 pic.twitter.com/ALbNiVbIyx— Def Pen Hoops (@DefPenHoops) November 19, 2020
Eric Strack | Minnesota Sports Fan