Nearly 6 months following that wretched March 9 game against the Lakers, which culminated in Minnesota losing it’s new favorite sports star to a torn ACL, it appears that we may have some good news to report on Ricky Rubio’s recovery from knee surgery that was originally expected to keep him off the court for an estimated 6-9 months. As reported by the Pioneer Press, after meeting with his doctors in Vail for one of his regular post-surgery checkups, Tricky Ricky appears to be well ahead of schedule. Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor in a recent interview said:
“The doctors said he was progressing faster than normal, and normal was supposed to be in January,” Taylor said Tuesday, Aug. 14, a day before heading to China on a two-week charity mission. “Faster than normal would be December. He’s going to start running and stuff in a few weeks.”
Although there is still much uncertainty and obstacles for Rubio’s remaining rehabilitation, this is great news for Timberwolves and NBA fans alike, and it is not overly optimistic to think that we could potentially see La Pistola on the court by the end of November or beginning of December. Timberwolves team doctors and coaches remain adamant that they will not compromise Rubio’s recovery by rushing him onto the floor too soon, or even before he is completely 100% to play. That is a good call considering the Spaniard turns a mere 22 years of age in October, and barring any serious setbacks to his knee, he should have many successful seasons for years to come in the NBA. Taylor, when asked about the Wolves playoff chances for this coming season following the acquisitions of Andrei Kirilenko, Alexey Shved, Brandon Roy, and others, had this to say:
“That’s a high challenge, but I’m not going to shy away from it,” Taylor said. “We’ve got a very good coach and some of the players that he wanted, and without injuries, and if Ricky can get back soon, that should be our goal, to be in the playoffs.”
If Rubio is able to come back sometime in December and play at or near the level he was at last season, the Timberwolves should have minimal difficulty snagging a playoff spot, most likely being a 7 or 8 seed. The biggest question mark will be how Minnesota can cope with potentially a month or more without Ricky running the point. And when he gets back, can he still be the game changer on defense, or will he lack some of his former speed which made him the defensive game-changer that he was? I do not worry about his ability to come back and be an instant impact on offense, because the qualities that make Ricky great as a PG are centered around intangibles, court vision, and elite passing ability. Unlike Derrick Rose, Rubio does not rely on explosiveness or bursts of speed when changing direction in order to have success, but instead mans the position as a floor general and finds ways of setting up his teammates for scoring opportunities. The simple fact that Rubio was able to be one of the most exciting and dynamic players in the NBA despite shooting a woeful 36% from the field says it all: he does not need to be an efficient scorer in order to leave a tremendous impact on games. And that is the very quality that sets Tricky Ricky apart from the pact, he may very well be one of the most unique players to ever play in the NBA. Only time will tell how he recovers from his injury, but I have absolute confidence that it will not be long before we see our Spanish sensation leading the Timberpuppies back to the promised land.
Photo Credits: Elizabeth Flores / AP