Rubio is projected to return in mid-to-late December, which is also the long projection for Love’s return. It is possible that Minnesota could play its first 20 games without its two best players.
In the offseason, Wolves GM David Kahn fortified the roster around Love and Rubio, signing Andrei Kirilenko, Brandon Roy, Alexey Shved, Greg Steimsma and Louis Amundson as free agents and trading for Chase Budinger and Dante Cunningham.
That group joined a young nucleus led by Love and Rubio that includes Derrick Williams, Nikola Pekovic and experienced point guards Luke Ridnour and J.J. Barea.
Love is entering the first year of a four-year, $60 million contract extension that allows him to opt out after the 2014-15 season. He is considered by many to be the best power forward in the NBA, averaging 20.2 points and a league-leading 15.2 rebounds in 2010-11 and a career-high 26.0 points and 13.3 rebounds last season.
Love also has shot better than 37 percent from the arc for his career. His versatility was one of the reasons he was chosen for Team USA for the 2010 World Championships and the 2012 Olympics, helping the United States win gold medals at both events.
Minnesota’s alternatives at power forward all are undersized. They include Kirilenko, who has great length and is a versatile defender; Williams, whose best position may be power forward; Amundson, a good offensive rebounder; and Cunningham.
As they did last season, Ridnour and Barea will split point guard duties in Rubio’s absence.
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