Utah Jazz Best Case/Worst Case Scenario Series: Ricky Rubio

MADRID, SPAIN - JULY 27: Ricky Rubio presents Cola Cao as sponsor of Spanish Paralympic Team on July 27, 2017 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Europa Press/Europa Press via Getty Images)
MADRID, SPAIN - JULY 27: Ricky Rubio presents Cola Cao as sponsor of Spanish Paralympic Team on July 27, 2017 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Europa Press/Europa Press via Getty Images) /

Acquiring Ricky Rubio this offseason was somewhat of a risk for the Utah Jazz, but he could pay major dividends if everything pans out as the team is hoping.

The biggest splash the Utah Jazz made this offseason in terms of player acquisitions was without a doubt the trade that brought in point guard Ricky Rubio. Parting with just a first-round draft pick to acquire the former Minnesota Timberwolf, the Jazz were able to land him relatively easily and hope that he will pan out as a significant contributor for the team.

Even though the addition of Rubio was largely seen as an effort to keep former free agent Gordon Hayward, just because that aspect didn’t pan out doesn’t mean that Ricky can’t still be an awesome piece for the Jazz. He’s well overdue for a breakout season and with a revamped opportunity in Utah, he could very well rise to the occasion and accomplish just that.

He’s without a doubt the best passing point guard that the Jazz have had since at least Deron Williams and while there are some concerns about his shooting, it’s reassuring that his defense, basketball IQ and personality could all result in him being an excellent fit.

Although Rubio put up just 11.1 points per game on 40.2 percent shooting from the field and 30.6 percent from deep last season, his 9.1 assists per game were extremely impressive and he showed some brilliant flashes late in the year. Rubio looked like an entirely different player in the month of March as he put up 17.8 points per game on 47.2 percent shooting from the field and 43.9 percent from deep.

If he’s able to transform that kind of play into more of a consistent performance, he could end up being a huge asset for the Jazz. Rubio is also one of the best at running the pick-and-roll, therefore with two effective roll-men on the team in Rudy Gobert and Derrick Favors, it wouldn’t be all that surprising to see Ricky thrive offensively, even if he isn’t the one racking up the points.

Best Case Scenario

Simply put, if Rubio is able to replicate his play from the month of March last season and maintain it for the entire 2017-18 campaign, he’s going to be an absolute force for the Jazz and easily reach his best case scenario. Ideally, Rubio will be able to take a major leap in shooting efficiency and finally live up to the hype that surrounded him when he was fresh in the league.

Although the Jazz tend to play at a slower pace, a best case scenario would also see Rubio maintain and perhaps even increase his assist volume. It’s been a long time since the Jazz have had a solidified reliable starting point guard and if Rubio can elevate his game to the next level next season, he could end up being just that.

Rubio won’t be an All-Star in the loaded West that boasts absolutely incredible point guards, but if he has a breakout season, he could very well at least be recognized as a worthy match-up against some of the top point guards in the league. And while it may not necessarily show up in his stats, Rubio could truly become highly valuable to the Jazz this upcoming season simply by consistently making each and every one of his teammates better.

He’ll need to find a way to reduce ever being a liability on either end of the court, but if he can do that, he may turn out to be the most reliable and productive point guard the Jazz have had in years.

Worst Case Scenario

Truthfully, Ricky Rubio’s worst case scenario is a little bit disconcerting. The biggest thing he seemingly needs (and should have) in Utah is confidence, but if he struggles to adapt right off the bat and continues to be a low-efficiency shooter, he could end up being a major disappointment. There’s plenty of justifiable concerns regarding Utah’s offense next season and if opposing teams sag off on Rubio because he fails to be a threat, it could spell big problems.

If Rubio can’t hold his own in terms of scoring and can’t make up for that by successfully getting his teammates involved, then he may find himself replaced at some point during the season by either Dante Exum or Donovan Mitchell, both of which are capable of playing the point. Both of those players are young and largely inexperienced, so if either is deemed worthy of snatching Rubio’s starting spot, it likely means big trouble for him and his new Jazz team.

Even if the worst does happen, Rubio still figures to have ample playing time for the simple reason that he’s an experienced player that is well-versed in running an offense. That alone should almost guarantee that he holds on to the starting spot all year, but one never knows how the rotations will actually pan out until the season is underway and the players are put to the test.

Next: Utah Jazz Best Case/Worst Case Scenario Series: Rodney Hood

The Utah Jazz need several players to step up next season and newcomer Ricky Rubio is without a doubt one of them. While he has plenty of promise, he also comes with no shortage of risks which make his addition to the team somewhat scary.

Hopefully, though, he’ll be able to put those fears to bed by instead meshing perfectly with the Jazz, finding a new level of comfort and confidence and having a breakout year on a brand new team that is very high on him. If all that comes together, Rubio could very well be one of the league’s surprises and play an instrumental role in taking the Jazz to unforeseen heights in the post-Gordon Hayward era.