In 2009, the Minnesota Timberwolves took a chance on Ricky Rubio with the fifth overall pick. At the time, they hadn’t made the playoffs in five years. A decade later: the drought is a decade longer.
The 28-year old Spaniard dealt with the incompetent Wolves front office for six seasons before being traded to the Jazz two years ago, almost to the exact date.
Honestly, I didn’t think Ricky Rubio was a starting caliber point guard for a long time, but last season he changed my mind. He looked more comfortable being on offense and seemed to be enjoying himself. Then again, what was there not to love? He had Donovan Mitchell, Rudy Gobert, and, of course, Joe Ingles, three elite talents.
As the starting point guard for a playoff team, Rubio averaged 15 points and 8.7 assists in the Jazz’s first-round loss to the Houston Rockets in five games. His best basketball is yet to come, as he’s a 28 year old entering his prime years.
And I couldn’t think of a better situation for him to blossom than with the best player under 23 in the NBA (this isn’t a discussion, by the way). May I present to you the Phoenix Suns backcourt of Devin Booker and Ricky Rubio.
Booker is a ball-dominant shooting guard. He moves well with the ball and has some of the most incredible shooting mechanics the League has seen in its history. Let’s not forget what he did to the Boston Celtics before he could even legally drink alcohol.
Through his first four seasons, Booker is yet to have a point guard with whom he can share the floor. Eric Bledsoe, another ball dominant guard, is the only quality talent to be paired with him. Mind you, Bledsoe didn’t even have prime seasons in Phoenix; those came in Milwaukee the past few years. However, the signing of Rubio should change that. The signing of Rubio could be something great for both he and Booker, as they compliment each other well.
While Booker is best with the ball in his hands and the floor cleared out, Rubio is best when he facilitates to shooters. Scorers. Guys who want to be something in the NBA. It’s why he was successful in Utah but not Minnesota: the Jazz was hungry, and the Wolves had no motivation.
A creative passer, Rubio is exciting to watch and knows how to play the game. Suns GM James Jones inked a player with a high basketball IQ and a motivation to win. However, the signing of Rubio won’t only benefit Booker, though. DeAndre Ayton will finally have a facilitator to give them looks down in the post. Kelly Oubre, Jr. will have the opportunity to expand his offensive game to the perimeter.
Rubio also brings a veteran presence to the locker room— having someone to go to for advice can only be a bright spot for the young Suns. He will be one of the few faces in uniform that knows what it’s like to win more than half of your games in a season.
A final thought: I’m rooting for Ricky Rubio this season, and I’m rooting for the Phoenix Suns. This move seems like a great fit. After many years of missing out, the Suns have built themselves a solid core of youth in Booker, Ayton, Oubre, Jr., and now, a veteran in Rubio.