Ricky Rubio will be out indefinitely with a sprained right elbow, the Minnesota Timberwolves announced Monday night.
Rubio was injured in the fourth quarter of Saturday night’s loss to the Sacramento Kings. He met with doctors for an MRI on Monday evening, and the test confirmed the team’s initial diagnosis of a sprain. With nothing broken, Rubio likely will only have to miss one to three weeks.
Rubio is an integral part of a young Wolves team trying to end a 12-year playoff drought. His veteran leadership, passing and defense are needed on a team that has started the season 0-2.
With Rubio sidelined, rookie backup Kris Dunn is in line to start the home opener on Tuesday night against Memphis.
”Next man up,” Timberwolves coach Tom Thibodeau said when asked if Dunn was ready to start this early in his tenure. ”You don’t get here by accident. You’re here, you’re a great player, get in there and get the job done.”
Dunn was the fifth overall pick out of Providence in June and has impressed Thibodeau early with his defensive acumen. The demanding coach has said that the 22-year-old Dunn is ”NBA-ready” from a defensive perspective right now, and he lauded his young point guard’s effort on that end through the first two games.
The bigger challenge for all rookie point guards is organizing and running an offense. With Karl-Anthony Towns, Zach LaVine and Andrew Wiggins at his disposal, it would be up to Dunn to keep the mouths fed and the ball moving if he has to step in for Rubio for any stretch of time.
”Defensively he’s done a lot of good things and I think the more experience he gets the better he’s going to play,” Thibodeau said. ”He’s learning. He’s getting better each day. There will be some ups and downs, but his intensity will cover up for things.”
Dunn said getting those first two games on the road under his belt has helped him adjust to the speed of the NBA game, particularly in the fourth quarter.
”I’ve been playing in some tough situations the last two games and those are the type of games I like to play in,” Dunn said. ”If Ricky doesn’t have the chance to play tomorrow night or any other games that go further along, I just have to step up and be ready.”
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