For all of their problems keeping guys on the court this season, the Wolves did get a certain guard back into their rotation recently. And as painful as it is to write this, here it goes: Ricky Rubio is hurting Minnesota on the court more than he is helping right now.
Whether he is being overly cautious while testing out his knee, whether he still isn't close enough to 100 percent to be effective or whether he is just plain rusty, the numbers don't lie.
Last year, before Rubio tore his ACL, he was the Wolves' leader in plus-minus rating at a plus-51 for the season. When he was on the court, a below-average team scored more than its opponents. His shooting was poor (35.7 percent), but he made enough three-pointers to at least keep defenses honest (34 percent, which is better than Alexey Shved's 31.9 this year even though Shved might SEEM like a better shooter). More than raw numbers, Rubio brought an energy and life to the game that was seemingly transformative.
This year, well, it's often been painful to watch. In just 175 minutes of court time -- admittedly a small sample size -- Rubio is minus-48. That means for every 48 minutes he is on the court, the Wolves are down 13 points. Part of that can be explained by coming off the bench with a depleted crew. But part of it is just Rubio. He can't make a shot (he has made exactly six baskets and no three-pointers all season). He can't or won't get into the lane. He still takes your breath away occasionally with a deft pass or defensive gem, but overall he just isn't himself.
Maybe he'll start pulling it together soon as he gains more confidence in his knee. Maybe he'll be able to help the Wolves somehow tread water until other key players get healthy. But maybe this is destined to be a lost season for poor Ricky and the Wolves. Time will tell.