Ricky Rubio figures to be a lot of things when he finally returns to the Minnesota Timberwolves' lineup nine months after knee surgery and rehab: A hardwood savior. A gate attraction. An emotional boost. A coaching challenge, however welcome, as far as blending Rick Adelman's new with his existing.

Most of all, Rubio's 2012-13 debut – expected to come Saturday night when the team plays host to the Dallas Mavericks at Target Center – figures to be a big happy headline for a franchise rather lacking in those across its 24 seasons.

Here are three more things the charismatic second-year point guard will be when he plays for the first time since tearing the ACL and MCL ligaments in his left knee in an innocent-looking collision with Kobe Bryant back on March 9:

A diversion (from the Kevin Love hubbub that flaired up Tuesday over an Internet story full of unhappy quotes from the Wolves' power forward).

A one-man cavalry (shoring up a backcourt thinned by injuries to Brandon Roy, Josh Howard and Malcolm Lee).

And … an unfair advantage?

It almost seems that way. The Timberwolves are 11-9 despite playing a quarter of their season without Rubio and the first 10 games without Love, the All-Star power forward who broke two bones in his right hand in training camp. They have weathered other injuries, too, but there they sit in the seventh spot in the Western Conference standings, generally getting healthier and positioned to climb even higher.