The Minnesota Timberwolves are 3-7 to start the year and in the bottom of the Western Conference, much to the frustration of point guard Ricky Rubio.
After winning 29 games last season, some thought that the Wolves would explode out of the West’s cellar and into the playoff hunt. That has yet to happen. Instead, the team is struggling to start the year, and Ricky Rubio isn’t pleased.
“This is the best team I’ve ever been around,” said Rubio per Jon Krawszynski of the Associated Press. “I get mad thinking that we’re wasting time. We’re not learning. It’s time to change.”
In the offseason, Minnesota brought on Tom Thibodeau to lead this young, electrifying Wolves team. The road has been bumpy, and porous defense is to blame. Although Thibs is a great defensive coach, his Wolves rank 19th in opponents points per game and 29th in defensive rating.
If Rubio wants to see change, he needs to be a driving force. He’s a gifted passer but also an offensive liability, and his defense has taken a dip over the last three years. Rubio’s getting whistled for more than 3.5 fouls per game and his defensive rating is 111 per 100 possessions — his worst in five seasons.
I will give him credit for his improved shooting to start the year. When Rubio is hitting open shots, it only benefits Karl-Anthony Towns, Andrew Wiggins and Zach LaVine, who are averaging more than 68 points a night combined.
Minnesota is just one game behind their ten-game pace from last season (4-6), and can easily turn their season around. Four of their next five games are against sub-500 teams, and it kicks off with a contest against the Philadelphia 76ers on Thursday.
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