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Why Ricky Rubio Will Have a Big Year for the Minnesota Timberwolves

The International Star Will Shine in His First Full Season for the Team

Yahoo Contributor Network

COMMENTARY | Ricky Rubio is heading into his third season in the National Basketball Association after becoming a phenom in Spain during the 2008 Olympics.

That sounds crazy, because it doesn't seem like it was three years ago when the prodigy finally made his debut for the Minnesota Timberwolves.

There has been plenty of fan fare since Rubio stepped on the court in Minnesota, but it's staggering to think that Rubio has yet to play a full season in the NBA.

Until now.

Rubio is primed for a breakout season as he prepares for his first 82-game season in America. The other two seasons were not only shortened by his torn ACL in March of 2011, but also the shortened schedule that season produced due to the lockout.

In between his time on the bench and waiting for labor negotiations to end, Rubio has dazzled by stuffing the scoresheet in every way. In his half-seasons for the Timberwolves, he's averaged 10.7 points per game with 7.7 assists and 4.1 rebounds.

That alone makes it exciting to know that Rubio won't be coming off any injuries or adjustment period in his third season, but the team around him has also turned the hype machine into full gear.

Rubio was already flanked by MVP candidate Kevin Love but thanks to new vice president of basketball operations Flip Saunders, he has a full team around him that can make his numbers even better.

The case in point starts with the free-agent acquisition Kevin Martin. During his first three seasons, Rubio would make a spectacular pass to the corner only to see Michael Beasley and Wes Johnson clank it off the rim. Martin should change that.

Martin is a guy that has been known to get buckets. Last season with the Oklahoma City Thunder, he hit 42.6 percent of his 3-point attempts (a career-high mark) and his best seasons came when he was playing in head coach Rick Adelman's system.

His shot-making ability and familiarity with Adelman's system mean that scoring chances will be plenty, and the pass-first Rubio makes things even better.

Rubio also is young enough where he can still get better. His shooting hasn't been perfect, but he's beginning to project like a Rajon Rondo-type guard that will pass first and will be able to knock down an open shot if needed.

A healthy and productive Rubio would be welcome in Minnesota, where they haven't reached the playoffs since the 2003-04 season. If he's able to improve and run the offense to new heights, there's a great chance that that drought could come to an end next spring.

Chris Schad is a lifelong Timberwolves follower who has seen a plenty of losing efforts during the franchise's history. His work has also been published on Bleacher Report and Pro Football Spot. You can follow him on Twitter @crishad.

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