Minnesota Timberwolves fans were caught off guard by fan-favorite Ricky Rubio being traded once again. His play was up-and-down in his return to the Twin Cities, but his relationship with then-19-year-old Anthony Edwards was what made Wolves fans smile. A reunion with the community that loved him so much, plus the mentorship of an up-and-coming star, would tug at anyone’s heart.
After tonight's game, arguably Ricky Rubio's best of the season, Rubio spoke postgame about how his "spirit" was really down at the beginning of the season.— Dane Moore (@DaneMooreNBA) February 15, 2021
He credited one teammate for the shift in his spirit over the past few weeks... Anthony Edwards.
And in one quick, sudden flash, it was all over.
The Spaniard’s return to the city where he grew before its eyes, the apprenticeship between the young phenom and experienced veteran and the beaming smiles the two had on their faces when they interacted with each other.
Rubio was traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers for Taurean Prince, a second-round pick and cash considerations on August 3rd of last year. Then-President of Basketball Operations Gersson Rosas’ plan was for Prince to serve as added depth at the three and four, being able to provide a relatively well-rounded game with an emphasis on shooting to the rotation.
To begin his tenure in Minnesota, Prince struggled to find a rhythm. He averaged 4.6 PTS on 37% FG through the first four months of the season. He also missed 11 games during that span.
After bumping those numbers up a bit in January, Prince has stepped up during the last two months. He’s averaging 9.8 PTS on 48% FG, including 43% from three in the last 18 games.
He’s found his rhythm, beginning to do what he’d done well in the past. In the five seasons before this one, he’d shot at least 39% on catch-and-shoot threes. This year he’s sticking to that average, shooting 38.6% on those attempts.
As are basically all of his other shooting numbers, including his catch and shoot percentage, which is up to 40.9% in the last 15 games. He’s become an incredibly solid role player for this team, averaging 17.5 minutes per game over the last two months.
Prince’s points per 100 shot attempts is 118.6, which nets him in the 79th percentile, according to cleaningtheglass. Although he’s averaging a career-low minutes per game this year, he’s still been efficient enough to give the Wolves a scoring punch in his playing time.
He saw himself as a “Swiss Army Knife” and “a chameleon” after being traded to Minnesota. Turns out he was right about that, as he’s been able to do a little bit of everything during his 57 games with the Wolves. Highly efficient off-ball play has clearly been his calling card, but he's made plays that show he’s not a total lost cause with the ball in his hands.
During the Wolves’ recent six-game win streak, he averaged 12.5 points while playing 19 minutes per game. Even though some of his minutes may have come during blowout wins (saying that is going to take some getting used to), furthering his confidence and building that rhythm will only help come playoff time.
With his continued efficiency from behind the arc and veteran savvy, he’s become an important part of the rotation, not to mention an essential part of the Wolves’ recent bench scoring output. We knew that the Wolves’ stars could lead them to victories, but seeing the bench continue to hold their own has been what’s set them apart during their recent success.
So after being traded for Rubio in a deal that lead to much conversation, Prince has done well to fill his role. It took a little bit to get him rolling, but once he was able to get his feet under him and establish some consistency, he’s shown just how valuable he can be to a competitive team.