Report: Ricky Rubio, 2 1st-Round Picks Traded to Wolves from Thunder for No. 17

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured Columnist

Phoenix Suns' Ricky Rubio (11) looks for a pass during an NBA basketball game against the Dallas Mavericks Sunday, Aug. 2, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis, Pool)
Ashley Landis/Associated Press

Ricky Rubio is heading back to where he started his NBA career. 

According to Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic and Chris Hine of the Star Tribune, the Minnesota Timberwolves acquired Rubio and the Nos. 25 and 28 picks in Wednesday night's draft from the Oklahoma City Thunder for the No. 17 pick.

ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski confirmed the news. On Thursday, Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium reported the Timberwolves were sending James Johnson to Oklahoma City as part of the deal. 

It's an exciting night for the Timberwolves, who drafted wing Anthony Edwards with the No. 1 pick. That gave them with fascinating depth in the backcourt and on the wing:

  • PG: D'Angelo Russell, Ricky Rubio
  • SG: Anthony Edwards, Jarrett Culver
  • SF: Josh Okogie, Jarrett Culver

And with two more picks in the first round and the No. 33 pick in the second round, the Wolves can add more young talent to surround Russell and Karl-Anthony Towns.

Rubio, 30, spent his first six seasons with the Wolves, averaging 10.3 points and 8.2 assists per game. He developed his reputation for being a crafty playmaker and excellent on-ball defender with Minnesota before stints with the Utah Jazz and Phoenix Suns in the past three years.

It will be fascinating to see how the Wolves utilize the duo of Rubio and Russell. Will they start them together, asking Russell to spend more time off the ball? Or will they stagger their minutes, giving Russell more opportunities to facilitate the offense?

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It's worth noting Rubio played with Donovan Mitchell in Utah and Devin Booker in Phoenix, two players who had the ball in their hands quite a bit. Rubio will never be confused with Kyle Korver as a spot-up shooter, but he did increase his three-point percentage last year to a respectable 36.1, which marked a career high. That was a solid bump for a player who has shot 32.8 percent from three in his career.

Rubio will also give the Wolves a far better on-ball defender than Russell, who can be hidden on that end when they play together.

All in all, it's a solid addition for Minnesota—and a nice reunion for the two sides.