10. How quickly will Utah fall in love with Ricky Rubio?
What I Said Then: I just assume it’s already happened because Ricky Rubio is so lovable.
What I’m Saying Now: Maybe it took a bit. Rubio came in and looked a little unsure of himself. Heralded for his passing and vision, he recorded just seven games with double-digit assists. For reference, in the 2014-15 season when he played just 22 games, he had nine double-digit assist contests.
Rubio had to fundamentally change how he’s played his entire career. It took a couple of months, but in the end, it worked. He wasn’t the same playmaker, but the threat was always there. And when he wasn’t getting other involved, he was getting his. He had his highest scoring output of his career with his best shooting percentages.
Perhaps more importantly for Utah, his defense was on point. With Rudy Gobert behind him, Rubio looked more relaxed on defense. He wasn’t abused in pick-and-roll trying to cover for Karl-Anthony Towns.
Rubio said at the end of the season, “We play more as a team” in comparison to his time in Minnesota. Jae Crowder made a similar statement following his trade from Cleveland. Rubio proved in Minnesota that he can play a beautiful brand of street ball. In Utah, he proved he can lead a team to the playoffs.
None of this is to say that Rubio’s replacement in Minnesota, Jeff Teague, was bad. He had a good season as the fourth option on a team that finished fourth in offense. The indirect swap worked for both parties.
Utah still won.