Timberwolves point guard Ricky Rubio is off to a disastrous start, due to an elbow sprain and his struggles to run new coach Tom Thibodeau’s scheme, according to Jerry Zgoda of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. Rubio is averaging 6.1 points on 32.7% shooting and a career-low 6.7 assists in 29.9 minutes. “I think everybody’s got to look at the mirror and see if they’re bringing everything in the game,” Rubio told Zgoda. “Talking personally, I’m not doing it and I have to do it more. I have to be more aggressive. I have to find myself again and lead this team like I’m supposed to.” Rubio’s name has often popped up in trade rumors, particularly after the team drafted Kris Dunn in the lottery in June. He has two years and $29.2MM remaining on his contract after this season but his poor play isn’t enhancing his value.
- Injuries have put a damper on the Lakers’ hot start, Eric Pincus of the Bleacher Report writes. D’Angelo Russell, Julius Randle and Nick Young all sat out against the Warriors on Friday with various ailments. Jose Calderon, Jordan Clarkson and rookie Brandon Ingram were thrust into the lineup, weakening the team’s bench. “It’s hard. It’s hard losing big pieces of our team,” Clarkson told Pincus. “We need a team to beat anybody in this league. With everybody back, we’re a complete team.”
- Thunder coach Billy Donovan is trying to not overwork his franchise player, point guard Russell Westbrook, Erik Horne of The Oklahoman reports. Westbrook is averaging 35.2 minutes after the team’s overtime victory against the Nuggets on Friday. That’s an uptick from the past two seasons, when he averaged 34.4 minutes during each campaign, but Donovan is satisfied by the way he’s managing Westbrook’s playing time. “Outside the overtime games, I’m pretty pleased at where his minutes have been,” Donovan said. “We’ve been pretty fortunate there.”
- Clippers coach Doc Rivers said there’s a simple reason for forward Blake Griffin‘s hot start. “His health,” Rivers told the media prior to Friday’s game at Detroit. “He, I thought, was going to have this (type of) year last year. Just getting injured kind of sidetracked him. Even before he was injured (with a quad issue), his knee was bothering him. You can tell he worked all summer on his game and he has great focus.” Griffin, who will be one of the hottest unrestricted free agents on the market next summer, is averaging 21.4 points and 8.7 rebounds in 33.0 minutes.