Is Minnesota Timberwolves point guard Ricky Rubio already preparing for Kevin Love's exit? With or without Love around, Spanish website BasketAmericano.com's Enrique Garcia reports that Rubio is ready to take on an increasing share of the team's leadership load.
According to a translation by Bleacher Report staff, Rubio said that Love is a special player who puts up incredible numbers, but the Wolves need a different leader. Rubio claims that despite Love being a leader in points, he's not the type of player who can or wants to be a vocal leader. He points out that there are different types of leaders and someone other than Love can lead. It could have been Kevin Martin, who has a bit more experience, or Rubio could move forward and be the definitive leader.
It's always possible for some intent to get lost in the translation, but this much seems clear: Rubio believes he's ready for more responsibility. He's prepared for the Timberwolves to be his team in some meaningful sense.
The 23-year-old is already quite the leader in at least one respect. He averaged 8.6 assists per game for Minnesota this season, distributing the ball as if it were second nature. That's always been Rubio's strength, and he hasn't disappointed thus far in his young career.
It's his scoring that leaves something to be desired.
Rubio made just 38 percent of his field-goal attempts and averaged a career-low 9.5 points per contest in his third season. That will have to improve, especially if Rubio is to have the requisite capital to bark at teammates and take the reigns.
Rubio's comments come at an interesting juncture in Love's career.
Love has made it clear to the Timberwolves that he intends to become an unrestricted free agent after next season and has no interest in a contract extension this summer to stay in Minnesota, according to sources with knowledge of the situation.
A number of teams are unsurprisingly reported to have interest in Love. Should he indeed leave sooner rather than later, Rubio may have his opportunity to truly take the helm in Minnesota. The Timberwolves will no doubt look to reload, but that likely means importing young prospects—not the kind of veterans who would lead the team from Day 1.
With Love injured for most of the 2012-13 campaign, Rubio already has some sense of what the future may look like. It sounds like a future he's at least somewhat ready to embrace.