The Minnesota Timberwolves got a nice surprise last year when their 2009 first-round draft pick finally came to America after six years of playing professional basketball in Europe. Point guard Ricky Rubio was a big part of a resurgent Timberwolves' season that had playoffs written all over it.
Unfortunately, that all went out the window with his season-ending injury. Rubio—who led all rookies in steals, assists and minutes per game—was lost for the year and the Wolves fell short of the playoffs.
Minnesota fans have reasons for optimism this season with a talented roster. However, they may have to wait long into the season to see Rubio again. It has been rumored (via Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune) that Rubio may not return until well into January.
In a recent statement, Rubio said:
I don't want to say a time because I don't want to rush it. I want to be ready whenever it is. It depends on how my knee goes... If the knee swells, I will have to stop. If not, I will keep pushing it. I'm trying to do as much as I can do.
Rubio tore his ACL in March. It often takes athletes a full year to recover from ACL injuries. It would not be a shock to see Rubio at less than his best into January or even February.
It is reasonable for the Timberwolves to take their time with the Rubio injury. Rushing a second-year player back from injury is never a good idea. Nevertheless, their season is not likely to get going until Rubio returns.
In only 41 games last season, Rubio contributed two win shares along with a 37.4 assist percentage. In the meantime, José Juan Barea will attempt to be a serviceable starting point guard.