ESPN.com put out a list of "top 25 players under 25" on Feb. 7, 2012. On that date, the Wolves won their third consecutive game to improve to 13-12. Kevin Love was dominating. Ricky Rubio's rookie season was in full ascent. Love, the game before -- and the last one before the rankings came out -- scored 25 points and had 18 rebounds. Rubio chipped in 13 points, 11 assists and three steals.
When the list came out, Love was No. 3 and Rubio was No. 16. The future was so bright. And then ...
Well, Rubio tore his ACL. Love broke his hand (twice). When on the court this season, neither has been the same. This has manifested itself in many ways, but one subjective measure is how they both rank on that same ESPN list, released today.
Love is down to 8th, even though he is a year older (Insider required). Rubio does not crack the top 25 even though his age (22) certainly still qualifies him for it.
The (partial) comment on Love last year: Today, he's among the NBA's top 5 in scoring, rebounding and PER, and is by far the Timberwolves' best player. With him as its anchor, Minnesota is poised for annual playoff appearances, and Love is a legitimate MVP candidate now and for years to come. Similar to: No one, he is a new type of power player.
And this year: This is awfully high for a player who has broken his hand twice this season and played well, not great, when he did appear in 18 games. But few players have done what he has done in his young career.