Ricky Rubio Cleared to Play Saturday vs. Mavericks

Tyler ConwayFeatured ColumnistDecember 15, 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 long-awaited second coming of Ricky Rubio has finally arrived in Minnesota. According to the Minnesota Timberwolves' official website, the star point guard will make his season debut on Saturday night versus the Dallas Mavericks.

In the released statement, Rubio expressed his glee about getting back onto the court:

I'm excited to get back on the floor with my teammates and play in front of the best fans in the NBA at Target Center. After a long recovery, this is the first step in me getting back on the court and helping my teammates. Thank you to the fans for their support over the last nine months.

Rubio has been out of commission since tearing the ACL and LCL in his left knee on Mar. 7 against the Los Angeles Lakers. Cleared by doctors for a return to practice at the beginning of December, the youngster has been working with teammates while getting into game shape. 

Rubio's return to game action could not come at a better time for the Timberwolves. Winners of six of its last seven games, Minnesota has found its stride after Kevin Love's return from a hand injury and are now directly in the Western Conference playoff chase.

However, point guard play had been a deficiency for much of the season. Both Luke Ridnour and J.J. Barea have played better of late, but the Timberwolves rank just 17th in the NBA in assists (21.4) and 21st in points per game (94.9). 

Adding Rubio to the mix should send those totals soaring. As a rookie, the Spaniard averaged 10.6 points, 8.2 assists and 4.2 rebounds per game, finishing second in the Rookie of the Year balloting despite missing 25 games. 

Granted, it's impossible to expect Rubio to come in and match those totals instantly. An ACL tear is especially tough for basketball players, and it will be a process getting the trust back in his surgically repaired leg. 

Nonetheless, Rubio is a franchise cornerstone for the Timberwolves, and it's great to see him back in action. He may not be returning to 40 minutes a night, but Saturday will be an opportunity for Rubio to remind Minnesota fans why he gave them so much hope nine months ago.