The razzle dazzle associated with Ricky Rubio is one of the few things that make the Minnesota Timberwolves appealing on a more than regional level. However, the Spanish point guard has reached the point in which he needs to be more than just someone dishing out beautiful assists, as adding a long range game and improving his defense would be a bit more beneficial.
Not that seeing Rubio pull off one of his tricks, this time spinning after dishing out an assist to Nikola Pekovic while completely deceiving the defense by looking at a different player, isn’t nice, especially in preseason. He finished with 15 points and 7 assists as the Timberwolves beat the Boston Celtics 104-89 in the preseason game in Montreal.
Playing the Celtics, especially in preseason, is not an indication to anything, but the numbers from the Timberwolves’ starting five should be encouraging. Rubio is looking healthy and sometimes even deadly from beyond the arc, hitting 2-of-3 three pointers. Kevin Love, playing 33 minutes, had a big game with 22 points and 9 rebounds, while Kevin Martin added 21 points and Nikola Pekovic scored 12.
We’re getting more acclimated with each other each day that goes by. I’m very hopeful for the season. We have a good team here. We have high expectations for ourselves as a team. We expect to win games. It’s a really tough guard when you have a guy like Kevin Martin who’s so fast and can get open, runs the break, can shoot the ball from distance. He only needs a split-second.
Not everything is bright for the Timberwolves, entering year three in the streak of seasons with them expecting to make the playoffs. Derrick Williams just can’t get it going under Rick Adelman, as this combination looks more dysfunctional from day to day. He might be getting more minutes and a start, but he’s either not good enough to be a consistent contributor for an NBA team with meaningful minutes, or he simply needs a fresh start.
Shabazz Muhammad continues to be another perimeter disappointment, as the rookie got only 3 minutes, taking one shot, scoring 0 points. It’s impossible to declare his pick the wrong one at this point, but game after game, the Timberwolves aren’t finding meaningful minutes for the shooter, and he isn’t doing much with the few that he’s actually given.
The Timberwolves open the regular season on October 30 against the Orlando Magic, and have two more preseason games left to play. They finished with a 31-51 record last season, 14 games outside the playoffs, with Ricky Rubio and Kevin Love missing huge chunks of the season that had almost every meaningful player experience an injury at some point or the other. They haven’t been to the postseason since 2004, when Kevin Garnett led them to the Western Conference Final, the only year in which the franchise won a playoff series.