Timberwolves Notes: On Rubio’s value and…50 wins?

Mar 16, 2016; Memphis, TN, USA; Minnesota Timberwolves guard Ricky Rubio (9) dribbles in the second half against the Memphis Grizzlies at FedExForum. Minnesota defeated Memphis 114-108. Mandatory Credit: Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 16, 2016; Memphis, TN, USA; Minnesota Timberwolves guard Ricky Rubio (9) dribbles in the second half against the Memphis Grizzlies at FedExForum. Minnesota defeated Memphis 114-108. Mandatory Credit: Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports /

The regular season starts in less than three weeks, and we’re still talking about the value of point guard Ricky Rubio to the Timberwolves versus his value on the trade market, plus the possibility of the Wolves reaching 50 wins this season.

The idea of the Timberwolves trading starting point guard Ricky Rubio has been floating around since May, when whispers of Tom Thibodeau’s infatuation with Kris Dunn first surfaced.

Then, there was draft night, when the rumors flew hot and heavy. And there was the aftermath, when Yahoo/The Vertical trade-breaking maven Adrian Wojnarowski confirmed that Rubio was indeed being ‘shopped’.

At this stage, we had to know that the Spaniard’s time with the Timberwolves might indeed be coming to an end, and fans had to come to grips with it. Some sort of ‘Thibs knows best’ idea/fantasy that calmed some of us down, but many Wolves fans weren’t resting easy regarding Rubio’s post-draft situation.

We’re in October now, and training camp is 10 days old. Rubio appears likely to be on the roster for at least the first half of the season, and likely through April — or May, or however long the Wolves are able to last come spring.

At any rate, a cadre of ESPN NBA Insiders published a roundtable regarding the players in the Western Conference who are most likely to be traded during the upcoming season.

It’s largely a list of players who are oft-rumored to be traded, including DeMarcus Cousins, Eric Bledsoe, and Rudy Gay. And, of course, Ricky Rubio.

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Here’s must of what they have to say about the Wolves’ point guard, with the only part omitted (it is an Insider piece, after all) being a paragraph talking about Rubio as a sell-high candidate whose only real shortcoming is shooting ability.

"We shouldn’t make an easy assumption that Rubio won’t be a part of the long-term core of the Timberwolves. He’s still only 25 years old, and in terms of two-way impact, he’s a borderline elite player. And new Minnesota coach/executive Tom Thibodeau values defense more than most.…You could see Rubio fitting with Dallas, New Orleans, Philadelphia, Sacramento and San Antonio, among others. — Bradford Doolittle"

We’ve heard of interest from Dallas and Sacramento previously, but there’s some new names in there. As always, this is a situation to keep an eye on.

Elsewhere, Mika Honkasalo of Hoops Hype wrote about how the Timberwolves could manage to reach 50 wins this year. This would obviously be an insane turnaround, from just 29 wins a year ago to the 50-mark.

Honkasalo runs through the list of Western Conference teams who may regress or stagnate this year (Clippers, Portland, New Orleans) or could be on the verge of anything from slippage (San Antonio) to a sudden collapse (Memphis). Then, he begins to list the reasons why the Wolves could vault a handful of teams.

He sings the praises of Karl-Anthony Towns and Tom Thibodeau, of course, but then launches into an interesting discussion surrounding Andrew Wiggins.

"Perhaps the most interesting player, and the biggest question mark both short- and long-term, is the productivity of Wiggins. The 6-foot-8 swingman has all the tools to be a Paul George-type of player. He’s a great athlete with the quickest second-jump you’ll ever see, and has shown flashes of being a well-rounded two-way superstar – a lockdown defender who can handle the toughest wing assignment, a shot creator and playmaker on the offensive end, and a dangerous jump shooter. Wiggins is about as tantalizing a wing prospect as you’ll find, and players with the tools and versatility to excel at every skill important to basketball are super valuable. Even Wiggins’ raw box score numbers look the part, as he scored 20.7 points per game last season on above-average efficiency with jumps in both categories from his rookie season.…Then again, becoming an elite defender happens when a player can combine athleticism with being tremendously smart – Kawhi Leonard being the best example. Wiggins has the tools to become great, and hopefully we’ll see the first steps of that happening under the coaching of Thibodeau next season.Worst-case scenario, Wiggins becomes a better version of players like Rudy Gay and Jeff Green. Players who can be great on offense, look really good… but who ultimately don’t impact the game in a net positive fashion."

The remainder of the article goes over the Timberwolves’ rotation in it’s entirety, and concludes that Minnesota has a chance at being ‘good’ on both ends, which is, in his words ‘pretty rare company’.

And being ‘good’ on both ends would certainly be enough to make the playoffs, and Wolves fans would no doubt accept that outcome.

Next: On Ricky Rubio, Before The NBA

We’ll continue our season preview series on Friday, and don’t forget about the Timberwolves preseason opener on Saturday night.