A couple of years too late, but Ricky Rubio finally played his first game for the Minnesota Timberwolves. The new Minnesota rookie connection, with Derrick Williams also making an impressive debut in the Target Center, joining the reliable stat machine Kevin Love. Suddenly, the Timberwolves seem like an intriguing team to watch, and even, dare we say, a playoff contender.

It’s still pre season, and these are only names on the paper. After all, the Minnesota have never been to the NBA playoffs without Kevin Garnett wearing their jersey, and even with him, the team hasn’t made a post season visit since 2004. In the last two seasons under Kurt Rambis, they’ve won a total of 32 games. Rick Adelman, the new head coach, hasn’t finished below .500 since the 1996-1997 season. Good signs.

And there was last night, hosting the Milwaukee Bucks. Ricky Rubio came off the bench to play 24 minutes. The guy won’t be scoring a lot of points, his abilities aren’t lighting up the scoreboard. But he’s a great floor general, being a starting point guard in professional basketball since he was 16. He finished with 7 assists, and unlike most European players, his defense shouldn’t be an Achilles heal. On the contrary, it’s one of his strongest points.

And there’s the show. Rubio has fundumentals, but he’s got the flair too. Kevin Love will get you a double double every night, but he’s not exciting to watch. A Kevin Love – Williams front court doesn’t sound too shabby. Williams finished with %56.8 from three point land on his sophomore year with Arizona. Alongside a hopefully improved Wesley Johnson, this team looks a whole lot more dangerous.

There’s a long way to go from NBA bottom feeders to playoff contenders and even more, a few steps and stages to go through. On a shortened season, packed with back to back and back to back to back games, you never know with a young team. The fresh legs can be an advantage, but young teams, despite one of the more experiences NBA coaches possible, tend to have many highs and lows, with back to back nights prime from and on-off display.

Lets keep the playoff hopes at bay until we’ve seen more than one preseason game. One thing for sure – The Timberwolves will actually be interesting to watch after a long long time of being, as sad as it is to say, irrelevant.