Minnesota Timberwolves: 3 Wolves players with the most to play for

MIAMI, FLORIDA - FEBRUARY 26: D'Angelo Russell #0 of the Minnesota Timberwolves celebrates with teammates. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
MIAMI, FLORIDA - FEBRUARY 26: D'Angelo Russell #0 of the Minnesota Timberwolves celebrates with teammates. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /
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Minnesota Timberwolves, Ricky Rubio
Ricky Rubio of the Minnesota Timberwolves. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) /

3 Minnesota Timberwolves players with the most to play for: Ricky Rubio

The beginning of Ricky Rubio’s reunion in Minnesota was extremely disappointing.

Early in the season, Rubio struggled physically, failed to mesh with D’Angelo Russell, and fell into a career-worst shooting slump. Rubio’s shooting and on-court relationship with D’Lo have slightly improved under Chris Finch, but Rubio remains a liability as a point-of-attack defender and an inconsistent shooter.

With that said, Rubio is capable of much more than he’s shown in Minnesota. Rubio is an elite passer with a top-notch basketball IQ. Rubio still has a lot to offer in this league, and the remaining games of the 2020-21 season are his chance to show it.

Rubio is earning $17 million this season, and next year will be his final year before free agency as he pulls down $17.8 million in the last year of his contract. It will be important for Rubio to be in a situation where he can make a significant impact on a team, as that will give him the best chance to make the most money that he can once his current contract expires.

With that said, his performance rest of this season will have a big impact on his contract year. There are two schools of thought as to why Rubio has a lot to play for the rest of this season.

1. Ricky Rubio must prove he can provide value to a young Wolves team

Rubio hasn’t been a dream fit and hasn’t played well, but his leadership and basketball IQ are hard to come by and can be especially valuable for the youngest team in the league.

If Rubio can play well and demonstrate a positive impact, the front office may determine that keeping Rubio around is in the best interest of their talent, which would guarantee Rubio the playing time he needs to make an impact, helping his case for another good contract.

2. Ricky Rubio must prove he can help a contending team

If nothing else, Rubio could see the rest of the season as a tryout for other teams in the NBA, particularly title contenders and hopefuls that need help at the point guard position; the Clippers, 76ers, and Lakers immediately come to mind.

Rubio may a prime trade candidate for the coming offseason given his current contract situation, so a good performance these last few games from Rubio would help prove value to other franchises who may be interested in trading for the Spaniard. This would guarantee Rubio the meaningful playing time he needs to prove his worth for his next contract negotiation.

Both of these schools of thought are reasonable for justifying the importance of the remaining games of this season for Ricky Rubio. He needs to perform well in order to set himself up for success in a contract year.