The Ricky Rubio Effect
According to an AP report overnight, Ricky Rubio has reached an agreement in the past few days to join the Minnesota Timberwolves for the upcoming 2011-12 NBA season (pending there is one). The 2009 fifth overall pick has been playing with Regal Barcelona the last two seasons, hindered by a astronomical ($8.11 million) buyout; Rubio will be locked into the current rookie-wage scale by signing before June 1st deadline.
Rubio joining the Timberwolves makes 2009 sixth overall pick Jonny Flynn expendable and expect David Kahn to shop the point guard. After an impressive rookie season in which Flynn started 81 games, averaging 13.5 points and 4.5 assists per game, Flynn's play took a dive last season (5.3 points, 3.4 assists) after undergoing offseason hip surgery last summer. Luke Ridnour stepped up admirably in his first season with the Timberwolves, but overall, this Minnesota team still has quite a few holes to fill. The Timberwolves were the youngest in the NBA last season with an average age of 24.2, but also had the lowest average NBA playing experience at 2.7 years. Darko Milicic is not the long-term answer at Center, despite the four-year $20 million contract he signed last summer. Wesley Johnson, last year's fourth overall pick, showed glimpses of potential, but shot under 40 percent from the field.
Minnesota holds the No. 2 pick in this 2011 NBA Draft, the likely landing spot for forward Derrick Williams, and also the No. 20 overall selection. There have been more than rumors circulating that Minnesota is open to moving either pick and would be wise to do so. Flynn is an attractive piece to an up-tempo team where he can streak up-and-down the floor, and both draft picks are bait as well. The draft is talent-rich in the top two spots with Kyrie Irving and Williams, but the Timberwolves already have two building blocks in the frontcourt with Kevin Love and Michael Beasley. Enes Kanter could be the long-term answer at center, meaning Minnesota could try to trade down a spot or two to pick up veteran pieces as well as Kanter.
By President Corey Ruff - 6-2-11