Ricky Rubio needs to become a leader for the Timberwolves in 2015-16


Quite simply, the Minnesota Timberwolves have one of the best cores of young talent in the NBA. President of Basketball Operations Flip Saunders and Co. have laid the foundation for what looks like a promising future.

However, with so much youth on the team (nine players have two years or less of NBA experience), there must be a vocal leader to guide the young players along. For the immediate future, Saunders has acquired Kevin Garnett and, more recently, Andre Miller to act as mentors for the squad.

However, it’s not like Garnett and Miller will be around very long. Both players are 39 years old, and it seems unlikely that either of them will play another season after 2015-16. Kevin Martin is another veteran player on the Wolves roster, and he isn’t getting any younger, either.

While there’s no doubting that Garnett and Miller can be effective veteran leaders this season, the question remains as to who will take over the leadership role after Garnett and Miller hang it up.

More from Free Agency

Ricky Rubio seems like the ideal player on the roster to take over that leadership role for Saunders. He’s spent his entire NBA career in Minnesota, has played at a high level (when healthy), and has carried himself very well both on and off the court. Additionally, despite being only 24 years old, Rubio is entering his fifth season in the NBA. He’s no kid anymore.

Loyal readers of DWW know how I feel about Rubio heading into the 2015-16 season. If the injury bug can stay away, he’ll have a career season.

His court vision and ability to run an offense have always been excellent, but just imagine how much better it will be when he’s playing with guys as talented as Andrew Wiggins, Karl-Anthony Towns, Shabazz Muhammad, Zach LaVine, and so on. In his four-year career, Rubio has never played with talent like this. Not even close.

Feb 20, 2015; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Timberwolves guard Ricky Rubio (9) hugs guard Andrew Wiggins (22) after making a basket in the fourth quarter against the Phoenix Suns at Target Center. The Minnesota Timberwolves beat the Phoenix Suns 111-109. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Moreover, Rubio has proven himself to be a more than capable defensive player in his career. He’s a pesky on-ball defender and a sneaky help defender as well. His basketball IQ is extremely high and shows on both ends of the floor.

Sure, Rubio hasn’t been completely healthy his entire career. I get that. However (and people forget this very easily), Rubio is only a year removed from the 2013-14 season in which he played ALL 82 GAMES. It’s not a longshot to believe that he could stay healthy this season. Maybe I’m just being too optimistic, I don’t know.

Does Rubio have to take over as the sole leader of the team this season? No. Saunders acquired Garnett and Miller for that. But when those guys decide to call it quits, I’m looking to Ricky Rubio to step into that role.

If he can start to show some of those leadership qualities this season, it will undoubtedly be a terrific sign. With his “quarterback” style of play and all the talented youth around him, Rubio could make for an excellent leader in Minnesota in the future.

More from Dunking with Wolves