After starting the season 5-2, the Minnesota Timberwolves have lost their last five games and now find themselves third from the bottom in the Western Conference at 5-7.
Every game matters in the West. Only two and a half wins separate the fourth (Los Angeles Clippers) and thirteenth (Minnesota) seeds.
Even with the early return of Kevin Love (broke his hand back in October, was expected to miss upwards of eight weeks), the Wolves have struggled to find the same magic that made them one of the leagues big surprises during the first two to three weeks of the season.
Well Wolves fans, never fear, as it appears starting point guard Ricky Rubio may in fact be making a earlier than expected return to the team as well.
Rubio tore his ACL back in March during the final moments of a game against the Los Angeles Lakers. He’s been out of action ever since.
Timberwolves beat writer Jerry Zgoda, who writes for the Star-Tribune, suggests that the date for Rubio’s potential return (which was originally around Christmas) has in fact been moved up a bit.
David Kahn said he still isn’t putting a timetable on Rubio’s return, as he hasn’t done all along.
But there’s no question Rubio’s return is getting closer, maybe closer than expected, particularly if you weren’t expecting him back until Christmas or later.
He’s been working out quite vigorously on his own before games — just saw him working up a sweat shooting and doing other drills — and it’s certainly possible he could be back in a game perhaps even sometime that first week of December, or shortly thereafter..
In fact, a doctors visit later this week could clear Ricky for practice as early as this Thursday.
Lord knows Minnesota could use their starting point guard back sooner rather than later.
With all due respect to Luke Ridnour and J.J Barea (who have both proven to be worthy backups in his absence), Rubio presents the long-term future of the Wolves organization. They need him back on the court to improve upon what was quite the remarkable rookie season.
In 2011-12. Ricky averaged 10.6 points and 8.2 assists a game. Despite shooting just 35% from the field, Rubio always made a huge impact whenever he was on the court, whether it be with his highlight-reel passes or stellar perimeter defense.
“When (Rubio) was healthy last year, he was very good keeping the people in front of him,” Rick Adelman said via The Star-Tribune. “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.”
The team has yet to confirm any reports on Rubio’s health and his potential return, but for Timberwolves fans around the nation, it can’t come soon enough.
Christopher Walder is a sports blogger and lead editor for Sir Charles in Charge. You may follow him on Twitter @WalderSports