Ricky Rubio: Timberwolves Need to Be Patient with Return of Point Guard

Joseph ZuckerFeatured ColumnistDecember 3, 2012

ORLANDO, FL - FEBRUARY 24:  Ricky Rubio #9 of the Minnesota Timberwolves and Team Shaq drives for a shot attempt during the BBVA Rising Stars Challenge part of the 2012 NBA All-Star Weekend at Amway Center on February 24, 2012 in Orlando, Florida.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

As the saying goes, patience is a virtue.

With a healthy Ricky Rubio, the Minnesota Timberwolves are one of the most must-see teams in the league. With Rubio, they have a point guard who can make highlight reels with just his passes. And Kevin Love is a bona-fide star who has one of the more compete games in the NBA.

There's hope on the horizon that the pair will be reunited on the court in the coming future. Per the Associated Press, the Spaniard had his first practice in nine months on Sunday. Head coach Rick Adelman was impressed with Rubio's progress.

Of the point guard's ability to run the Timberwolves offense, Adelman said:

That's there. He showed that today. He passed the ball very well, got to spots. That's always going to be there. It's just going to be his conditioning and his legs and how long can he go? That's going to be the biggest thing.

The temptation might be there to get him back very soon. Even with injuries to Rubio, Andrei Kirilenko, Kevin Love, Chase Budinger and Brandon Roy, Minnesota is still hovering around the .500 mark.

Luke Ridnour has done a very serviceable job in replacing Rubio, averaging 11.6 points and 4.4 assists a game. Ridnour's backup, Alexey Shved, has been good as well, averaging 10.4 points and 3.7 assists, and he actually has a higher PER than Ridnour.

But there's no doubt the two are a downgrade from the injured Rubio.

Even with their point guard at 100 percent, they're still unlikely to compete with the cream of the crop in the Western Conference. As a team, Minnesota isn't better than the Thunder, Grizzlies, Clippers, Lakers or Spurs. You could possibly even throw in the likes of the Jazz, Nuggets and Rockets.

That's why it's important for Minnesota to take its time with Rubio's return. Rushing him back too soon could leave him susceptible to aggravating his knee injury.

Rubio is a building block for the future. His injury, without a doubt, set the project back a little bit, but no Timberwolves fan could have imagined that Rubio could have led the team to the NBA title in just his second year.

The 2012-13 season should now be looked at as building the relationship between Rubio and Love. There's no speculation anymore as to whether Love will be in Minnesota for the short-term future. He can opt-out in 2015, but if the Timberwolves improve like it appears they will, he'll have no reason to leave.

Minnesota is a team on the rise, but bringing Rubio back too soon would stall the progress the team has shown in the past couple of seasons.