It was one of the most anticipated seasons in the Timberwolves franchise since Kevin Garnett called the Target Center his home. Kevin Love has just came off one of the most dominating seasons ever seen in the NBA. Love averaged 20 points and 15 rebounds allowing him to win the Most Improved Player Award in the 2010-2011 NBA season. Other than Kevin Love developing into a premier big man and one of the best players in the game today, everyone in Minnesota and around the United States were awaiting for the arrival of one Ricky Rubio. After being drafted by the Wolves in 2009, Ricky decided to stay in his home country for two extra years before coming over to the NBA. In those two years Rubio was absent, the Wolves finished as the worst team in the NBA. Despite the Cavaliers having a 26 game losing streak last season, Most Improved Player of the Year, Kevin Love, and the Wolves still ended up with the worst record in the NBA.
As the NBA calendar shifted to 2011, hope was reunited with the state of Minnesota. Ricky Rubio was finally coming. Amidst the lockout disputes with the NBPA (National Basketball Players Association) and the NBA owners, Timberwolves fan still had something to be happy about. When Rubio landed in Minneapolis-St.Paul International Airport, everyone in Minnesota knew things would change in the state and specifically at the Target Center.
I am proud to say that I was there to witness Rubio’s first game at the Target Center on December 26, 2011. The Wolves were playing the Oklahoma City Thunder, one of the elite teams in the NBA. Before the season even began, I honestly thought that Ricky wouldn’t be a good point guard. Because of his size and international experience, I thought Rubio was a softy and a guy who can’t find ways to score against bigger guys. However, I still kept in mind that if he played like Nash or Maravich, he would be able to have success in the NBA. That was all in my imagination. During the Thunder game my imagination became a reality, Rubio was playing fantastic and passing the ball perfectly like there’s no tomorrow.
The Wolves were able to finally reach the .500 mark and go above it in the month of January. Unfortunately for the Wolves, the worst thing that could ever happen happened. The Wolves were expected to make the playoffs for the first time in a long time and possibly be the 8th or 7th seed in the Western Conference. Minnesota was improving it’s play game after game, but Rubio got injured. Everyone Timberwolves fan just stopped what they were doing and got a feeling they have always had in the past 2 season, disappointment. Ricky Rubio tore his ACL during a tight game against the Los Angeles Lakers where Ricky Rubio collided with Kobe Bryant causing Rubio to fall in pain.
The Wolves were on a roll at the end of January and has established itself as a team not to be forgotten. When Rubio when down the Timberwolves had to regroup and prepare itself for the second half of the regular season after the All Star Break in Orlando. Kevin Love was the one of two Wolves players to make an appearance this year in the NBA All-Star Weekend events such as the Foot Locker Three Point Shooting Contest, which he won, and of course, the annual NBA All-Star Game. People have always talked about how Rubio is this new exciting rookie the Wolves have, but people always overlook 2nd overall pick last summer, Derrick Williams. Williams as well competed in an All-Star Weekend event where he took his high flying act to the Slam Dunk Contest. Unfortunately for Williams, he lost, but his recognition in the NBA became brighter. Ricky and Williams have both been an exciting duo to watch before Rubio went out. Rubio was throwing lobs and amazing passes and Williams would always be on the receiving end and would complete the play.
As the second half rolled on the Wolves were falling out of contention and began to crumble into a losing streak and to cap off the suffering, Kevin Love sustained a concussion one night against the Nuggets. It was basically insult into injury to the Timberwolves team. Rubio was already down and now their MVP candidate in Kevin Love, who has been having one of the best season’s an NBA player has ever had, this was just sad for Timberwolves fans. The Wolves would go on to lose 13 of their last 14 games of the regular season including an 11 game losing streak.
The Wolves certainly had a good and promising start to their season but since the end of January, the Wolves were just the same as they were the past two seasons. Minnesota will have a lot of things to do this off season and will have to find another scorer and big man to help Kevin Love inside. Pekovic has been a surprise player this year for the Wolves and they will certainly need to keep him.
Another season will begin this Fall. Another anticipated season. Let’s just hope the results next season are just as exciting as the anticipation for that season. Go Wolves!