There have been times this season when Ricky Rubio said rookie Anthony Edwards has lifted his spirits just by the force of Edwards' upbeat and outgoing personality.
Edwards, in turn, has said Rubio is the best leader (besides perhaps himself) that he has ever been around.
This is one reason why the Wolves brought Rubio back in a trade this offseason — so he could help mentor Edwards. Rubio said this season is unlike any other he has seen rookies go through in the NBA.
"If you put together all that's going on with COVID, changing of coaching, everything, I think it's the toughest rookie season for any rookie that I've been a part of, especially for a No. 1 pick," Rubio said. "I've been lucky to play with some of them. I just try to keep him engaged and not lost, deal with the big picture."
Along those lines, Rubio said he has tried to guide Edwards through the daily grind, and help him through those moments when his play is inconsistent.
"When you're young, every game and every situation it seems like it's the end of the world sometimes when it's not working," Rubio said. "But his character is special. I said it from Day One I think we have a gem here. We have something that — he's going to be really good in this league."
Rubio said he has seen promising players and high draft picks get lost in their early career struggles, and they never meet their full potential as a result.
He also said how he may talk to Edwards is different from how he may speak with the other Wolves rookie, Jaden McDaniels.
"Not everybody is going to take it the same way," Rubio said. "That's one of the things that I like about 'Ant,' that I can be hard on him because I know he can take a lot on his shoulders. He has a lot of confidence. Jaden is more like the quiet guy, but at the same time he listens and he knows when he makes a mistake and he knows the game.
"So it's knowing the personnel that you're talking to, knowing don't take anything personal and be cautious with your words."
Honesty is best policy
Wolves center Naz Reid was asked Friday where he felt like he has improved the most from year one to year two in his career. Reid chuckled as he answered.
"My biggest progression I would say is rim protection," Reid said. "I would say last year I probably didn't do that at all probably."
Reid has looked like a more polished player in year two, and he also said offensively he feels more comfortable driving to the basket. Against New Orleans on Thursday, Reid and Karl-Anthony Towns shared the floor at times. It's something coach Chris Finch wants to try regularly, but as former coach said, doing that is dependent on matchups.
"If we want to play Naz and [Towns] together more, then one of them is going to have to take the four, or there has to be a matchup where we can take advantage or hide, if you will," Finch said. "I don't like to use that word because I think they're both capable defenders."
Reid said he would relish the chance to play with Towns.
"He can do what I can do and I can do what he can do," Reid said. "It's really a mismatch I would say in terms of offense, just being able to get to the basket or shoot threes or space the floor, whatever the case may be, and defensively we're still working on that part of the ball."
Finch had said earlier in the week he was hopeful D'Angelo Russell (left knee surgery) might return to on-court activities this weekend, but that return will have a "little delay," Finch said.
"I don't think it's anything too great of a concern," Finch said.
Meanwhile, Jarrett Culver missed his second consecutive game because of a "left great toe strain," according to the Wolves. Finch indicated Culver's injury would require pain management and that he could play as early as Sunday.