Utah Jazz: Ricky Rubio finishes above George Hill in SI’s Top 100 NBA players

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - APRIL 11: Semaj Christon (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - APRIL 11: Semaj Christon (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) /

In what might be an interesting projection for some Utah Jazz fans, Sports Illustrated pinned Ricky Rubio higher than George Hill on their Top 100 NBA players list.

Over the past two days, Sports Illustrated has been revealing their projections for the top 100 NBA players of 2017-18 one group at a time. On Monday they released numbers 100-51, then proceeded to reveal 50-31 on Tuesday. As my J-Notes colleague Ryan Aston mentioned yesterday, three Utah Jazz players found themselves on the back end of the list – Rodney Hood (87), Derrick Favors (67) and Ricky Rubio (61).

I was certainly glad to see three Jazzmen land in the top 100, and was even more thrilled to see that Utah Jazz standout Rudy Gobert has yet to be announced, meaning at the very worst he’ll land within the top 30.

However, one thing that definitely jumped right off the page at me when looking over the list that has been compiled so far was that newly acquired Utah Jazz point guard Ricky Rubio found himself with a higher ranking than the man he replaced, George Hill, who came in two spots below Rubio at number 63.


When the Jazz elected to trade away a first-round pick in exchange for Ricky Rubio, all but signalling that Hill’s time in Utah had come to an end, many fans were worried that this would mean a step backwards for the Jazz at the point guard position. In all honesty, in some ways it’s not hard to see why that could be the case.

Ricky Rubio isn’t nearly the shooter that George Hill is and while both are respectable on defense, there’s no denying that Hill has the edge there as well. When comparing the two players’ 2016-17 seasons, Hill had the advantage in points (16.9 vs. 11.1), field goal percentage (47.7 vs. 40.2) and three-point percentage (40.3 vs. 30.6). Those figures further solidify Hill’s dominance as a scorer. However, Rubio may potentially help Utah’s offense click even better.

Last season he averaged 9.1 assists, over twice as many as Hill’s 4.2. He also had the edge in rebounds (4.1 vs. 3.4), steals (1.7 vs. 1.0) and free throw percentage (89.1 vs. 80.1) all of which could indicate that Rubio is the more versatile player of the two. Not to mention, Rubio is nearly five years younger than Hill and thus should have significantly more longevity.

In all honesty, had Hill stayed healthy for the entirety of last season, I likely would have preferred him over Rubio. His shooting touch and scoring ability were superb for the Jazz and there’s no denying that he was an exceptional fit with the 2016-17 Jazz squad.

With that being the case, only time will tell whether Rubio truly ends up surpassing Hill in terms of fit and performance. But if it does pan out that way, it will be a huge win for the Jazz. Many fans were nervous that Rubio’s acquisition would result in a decline at the point guard spot, but it’s reassuring to see that, whether they’re correct or not, the experts over at Sports Illustrated are confident that Ricky will be an improvement over Utah’s former starter at the position.

Given that the Jazz lost out on Gordon Hayward this offseason and have several players in need of staying healthy and proving themselves, they’ll obviously take improvement wherever they can find it. Especially considering that the point guard spot has long been in limbo for the Utah Jazz, if they’re able to find that leap in production at the point, it could potentially help elevate their overall level of play more than any other position could.

I’m somewhat hesitant to automatically assume that Rubio will be better than Hill during the upcoming season, but he certainly possesses some unique skills that could help such be the case. His youth and the fact that he will hypothetically be on a better team next year than Hill will be could also help further his case.

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If he is able to thrive off of the confidence that Jazz brass seems set to place in him and has a breakout season similar to Hill’s last year (which is precisely what I’ve predicted Rubio will do), then his Sports Illustrated ranking ahead of the Jazz’s former point guard could end up being completely accurate.

And ideally his improvement will result in SI’s only mistake regarding Rubio being that pinning him at number 61 was far too low.