After a handful of preseason games, it looks like the Cleveland Cavaliers got their backup point guard. The Cavs needed some guard depth, more specifically a backup point guard, desperately after last season. That need was addressed when Cleveland acquired Ricky Rubio via trade on draft night.
There were some mixed feelings about the trade due to Rubio’s hefty salary of roughly $17 million this season. Was it really worth paying someone this much to be a backup point guard? Last season was a disaster when Darius Garland or Collin Sexton could not play with an injury, there was simply no depth at point guard. Rubio will likely be one of the NBA’s better backup point guards this season. Rubio’s impact on the Cavaliers’ roster is already becoming evident through only four preseason games.
What is Rubio adding to Cleveland’s roster?
Rubio obviously gives the Cavs good depth behind their core pieces of Garland and Sexton. It will be very useful to have a good ball handler and playmaker like Rubio coming off the bench. Cleveland’s bench production should be better since the Cavaliers should have a good facilitator on the floor at all times with Garland, Sexton and Rubio on the team. Some of this has already been seen during the preseason. When Garland leaves the floor, Rubio can continue to set up teammates.
Also, many different lineups have been tinkered with throughout the preseason. Rubio’s presence has allowed Garland to try out some shooting guard. This could really elevate Garland’s off-the-ball ability in terms of shooting and cutting. Differing lineups with Rubio and Garland in the backcourt could be quite interesting and be really successful with two guards who can handle it and pass well. The potential lineup also addresses J.B. Bickerstaff’s (the Cavs’ Head Coach) want to push the tempo and play at a quicker pace. In general, Rubio has already done a good job of pushing the tempo when appropriate.
In only four preseason games, Rubio has done all of this for the Cavs. He is distributing the ball at a high level and orchestrating the offense when he comes in. He has not been an efficient scorer every game, but he continues to set up players on the offensive end. When Rubio came off the bench in preseason games versus the Hawks and Pacers, the Cavaliers were +16 and +12 with him on the floor. Here’s a look at the kind of production the Cavs can still have when Rubio comes off the bench.
Ricky Rubio just scored a layup, hit a 3-pointer and then did this in three consecutive plays
It is really cool to have a capable backup guard this year pic.twitter.com/YEi7YP1Qja
— Tony Pesta (@Tony_Pesta) October 6, 2021
Rubio is doing this on a consistent basis right now, the Cavaliers simply did not have that last season off the bench. That becomes even more important when some talented players like Lauri Markkanen, Kevin Love or Evan Mobley have the chance to come off the bench at times. Cleveland will want players on the floor that can still effectively run this offense when Garland or Sexton are taking a breather.
There is no guarantee Rubio continues this level of play into the regular season. This is still a great start for him, even in the preseason. Cleveland should be thrilled with their trade for Rubio so far, his role could be very impactful all season long.
Featured image courtesy of Sport-Journal.com
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