Kevin Love should be happy. Michael Beasley will be as well. Then again, so will every player in the Minnesota Timberwolves line-up not associated with the point guard position. For a franchise known for flopped draft choices, questionable transactions and an uncanny ability to never get better, it's the point guard position within that team that's the most disappointing. Consider it the black hole within the black hole. The arrival of Ricky Rubio should, at the very least, stop the bleeding in that spot.
Perhaps these names will ring a bell: Marko Jaric, Marcus Banks, Ricky Davis, Sebastian Telfair, Ramon Sessions, Jonny Flynn, Luke Ridnour. Those are some of the point guards (or guards forced to employ the point position) during the last few years for the Wolves. That famous Rubio draft of 2009 may be the only one in NBA Draft history where a team chose the same exact position with two high picks only to have neither provide the answer. It's the NFL equivalent to a team using two Top-10 selections on a quarterback only to watch both fail.
But Rubio didn't exactly fail. He simply never showed up. Now that the buyout for his Spanish team isn't so large ($1.4 million reportedly), local endorsement deals and his rookie contract provide enough money for him to come over. And it's just in time because the Wolves actually have some talent in-house that's recognizable for the first time since they unloaded Kevin Garnett in Love and Beasley. They also hold that No. 2 selection in this year's draft.
Ridnour rode out a fine final year in his last contract to spin a new one, and many NBA analysts were crying foul over the Wolves signing even as it happened knowing it wouldn't pan out as a good move. Flynn never worked from the outset and even for a team with a chasm at point guard, the young Syracuse product still couldn't crack the starting line-up. All the same, Love and Beasley and even Anthony Randolph did what they could (which wasn't much) and had to watch one more year of the NBA Playoffs on their televisions -- with no real hope for making it in the near future.
Perhaps Rubio can change that. At the very least, the reports of Rubio's defensive prowess and pass-first nature will make things much more interesting for the players involved. Rubio can space the floor better and bring an energy that opponents must contend with. Already, Love was tweeting about the pick-and-rolls that Rubio will undoubtedly create, and if the Wolves head coach Kurt Rambis can figure a way to mesh the personalities, they suddenly have an enviable young core in the Western Conference -- at a time when most teams are showing signs of age.
According to John Hollinger's PER rating, which measures an index of Player Efficiency, Ridnour came in 30th overall in point guards in the NBA last season. Sebastian Telfair was 53rd. The sad part is it's been this way for years. Jonny Flynn came in 39th the year before as Minnesota's highest finisher. Telfair was 45th in 2008 and that, again, was the highest. Simply put, the void at PG has been insurmountable for years now. j
Rubio will undoubtedly have his adjustment, but a court is a court when it comes down to it and if he truly has the skills he will be fine. Not only that, but his teammates will finally be okay as well. If Rubio can even become a league-average point guard in the NBA and shore up the void that's been in Minnesota for years, he will become the most celebrated import in quite some time. And his teammates will be leading the charge.