x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Misery begets misery, team and player unite

It is funny how both Ricky Rubio and the Minnesota Timberwolves had to plummet before finally finding each other.

That's not exactly rock bottom they just hit, but it is funny how both Ricky Rubio and the Minnesota Timberwolves had to plummet before finally finding each other.

It has been two years in the making, although right now it looks like it might be two years too late.

When the Timberwolves drafted the Spanish national team star fifth overall in the 2009 NBA draft, Rubio was an international sensation. At just 18, he had been a two-year starting point guard in Europe's best league. He held his own for Spain against Chris Paul and Jason Kidd in the 2008 Olympics. He seemed a natural, he seemed special.

Only Rubio did not sign with the Timberwolves. He stayed in Europe for two seasons, where his play regressed. And in the meantime, the Timberwolves became the worst team in the NBA.

Last week, Rubio finally signed. The news caused barely an NBA ripple.

After averaging 10 points and six assists for DKV Joventut, he struggled the past two seasons with Barcelona. In the 2009/10 season he dipped to seven points and four assists. This season his numbers went down to 6.5 points and 3.2 assists per game. And he shot just 39 per cent.

"He hasn't improved any of his weaknesses," one veteran scout told ESPN.com. "And he seems to have lost that swagger that made him so special. For so many years, he was so far ahead of players his age. He was a prodigy. Now he looks ordinary."