NBA / Apr 11, 2012 / 9:30 am

Ricky Rubio Might Miss Training Camp, But His Knee Might Not Be His Biggest Worry

Ricky Rubio

Ricky Rubio (photo. Nicky Woo)

We can’t put a Nielsen box in every NBA fan’s home, but is there any doubt that Minnesota gained the most viewership this season of any NBA team? If you have a favorite team, here’s betting the T-Wolves became your other favorite — the other team to tune in to when the former wasn’t playing (it’s not cheating, but more like admiration from afar).

Second question: Is there any question why?

The short answer is Ricky Rubio; his final arrival in the Twin Cities spawned a cottage industry of people just creating YouTube videos of his dimes.

So the Spanish elephant in the room in Minny lately has concerned when he’ll be coming back from torn knee ligaments suffered March 9. Tuesday gave a glimpse into Rubio’s psyche, post-injury.

A month and a day after ripping two ligaments in his knee against the Lakers, Rubio held a held a press conference Tuesday to talk about his recovery. And, it sounds like the best thing about Rubio — his confidence to make the play few others could — could be as shaken as his knee ligaments are torn. From the Star-Tribune‘s Kent Youngblood:

“I don’t know if it’s going to be training camp,” Rubio said of his return. “I don’t know when I’m going to come back. But the most important thing, the first thing that I want to make sure of is when I come back I’m 100 percent. I don’t know if it’s training camp. I don’t know if it’s the first week, second week (of the season). I don’t want to put a date. It depends how my knee feels.”

As Rubio’s knee has gone, so has resembled the T-Wolves’ play lately. Since he went down, they’re 4-12. He returns to his Vail, Colo., surgeon in a month for a check-up but until then, it sounds like he’ll be talking himself into confidence he can return.

“Of course you always think in your mind about what can happen,” said Rubio, who was operated on by Dr. Richard Steadman in Vail, Colo., on March 21. “Especially the first couple days after surgery, when you can’t move your knee. You just think about it, and think if you can come back. But you have to be strong and do your best and try to come back even harder. I love basketball. I love playing basketball, and I’m going to do my best to play again.”

Kevin Love was a known quantity after his breakout season, and even if his MVP-caliber numbers are impressive, it’s following an arc that could have been expected after last season. Sure, Derrick Williams was a nice addition to the stew the Timberwolves had cooking, but no one knew how it was going to taste all together, and Rubio was probably the biggest question. Add in some Spanish seasoning and, hey, it turns out the doormat formerly known as Kevin Garnett’s former team was more than palatable — it was good. Rubio had been putting up 10.6 points, 8.2 assists, 2.2 steals and 3.2 turnovers per game in 34 minutes per game while sharing time with Luke Ridnour and J.J. Barea.

I’m not going to say he was a top-five guard when he was injured. Fun and elite aren’t mutually inclusive. He was certainly the former, however, and it appeared it was a matter of when until he joined the latter. It all fed off the outsized confidence, though, that any undersized player needs. What I want to know most is how quickly that returns. By his timetable, and the doubting tone that crept into his press conference, it seems that it might be a year after we first saw Rubio play that we’ll get a second impression from him. As Youngblood wrote:

But he didn’t want to set a date for his return. Indeed, Rubio — who talked about the pain of his initial post-surgery rehabilitation — repeated his intent to look no further than a month out.

Until then, I’m thankful for all the people who uploaded those highlights.

Will he be the same after recovering?

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