Ricky Rubio Injury: Timberwolves' Playoff Hopes Doomed After Losing Star PG

Tim DanielsFeatured ColumnistMarch 10, 2012

ORLANDO, FL - FEBRUARY 24:  Ricky Rubio #9 of the Minnesota Timberwolves and Team Shaq drives against John Wall #2 of the Washington Wizards and Team Chuck during the BBVA Rising Stars Challenge part of the 2012 NBA All-Star Weekend at Amway Center on February 24, 2012 in Orlando, Florida.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

The Minnesota Timberwolves' playoff chances took a severe hit last night when they lost rookie point guard Ricky Rubio for the rest of the season. 

Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune reports Rubio suffered a torn ACL in a game against the Los Angeles Lakers. The injury occurred while trying to make a defensive play on Kobe Bryant.

Timberwolves point guard Ricky Rubio’s compelling rookie season is over, ended by a torn anterior-cruciate knee ligament that ends his season, a team source said this afternoon.

Rehabilitation time for such an injury usually is six to nine months, which means Rubio also likely will miss playing for Spain in the London Summer Olympics that begin in July.

Rubio was averaging 11 points, eight assists and four rebounds in his first season since coming over from Spain. His potential was immediately obvious. He showcased rare court vision and tremendous passing ability.

The 21-year-old rising star suffered through his fair share of growing pains, as every rookie does, but his presence helped reinvigorate the Timberwolves and their fanbase.

Along with Kevin Love, Rubio had pushed the team into playoff contention. They are only a half-game behind the Houston Rockets for the eighth and final playoff spot, but without Rubio they'll likely fade out of the race down the stretch.

He was really the engine that drove the team's offense. Even though J.J. Barea is a solid depth piece, he doesn't have the ability to run an offense in the same manor that Rubio has over the past couple months. The same can be said about Luke Ridnour.

The injury comes just as things were beginning to round into form for Minnesota. Nikola Pekovic was starting to look like a perfect sidekick for Love and fellow rookie Derrick Williams was finally starting to show off some of his upside.

It was all made possible by Rubio's strong play running the point. He kept defenses honest because he had the ability to drive to the basket, long down a long-range jumper or find an open teammate. There aren't many PGs with that type of all-around ability.

Finding a way to keep the offense rolling without him will be incredibly difficult, if not impossible. That's how much he meant to the team.

Since it's starting to look like there will be four or five Western Conference teams battling for one playoff spot, there doesn't appear to be a plausible scenario where the Timberwolves are able to keep pace with Rubio sidelined.