Phoenix Suns: Ricky Rubio is enjoying a resurgence in an ideal role

NBA Phoenix Suns Ricky Rubio (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
NBA Phoenix Suns Ricky Rubio (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /

Ricky Rubio is having a resurgence season with the Phoenix Suns in a role that is ideal for the veteran point guard

Sometimes, a fresh start can come from the most unlikely situations. Such is the case for Ricky Rubio, the 29-year-old guard who is rejuvenating his career in front of Phoenix Suns fans in the Arizona desert.

After being dealt over the offseason from the Utah Jazz, many of the Phoenix faithful believed this may be a fit made in heaven, especially since the Suns have been a team lacking in point guard depth for years.

In his 33 games played so far on the year, Rubio has been able to offer a brand of playmaking basketball that has been missing in the Suns’ offense, creating shots and opening the floor for shooters. The main beneficiary of this passive style of play is Devin Booker, the 22-year-old sharpshooter who, before this season, has had to create much of his offense on his own through isolation play.

Now in his fifth career season, Booker finally has a reliable and passing point guard to work with, and it has been showing in the stat lines for Phoenix.

Rubio has realized his role at this stage of his career; a passer first and foremost. Because of this, he now ranks second in the league in assists with 9.2 per contest, only trailing the league leader LeBron James who clocks in at 10.8 per game. This season become Rubio’s first 9-plus assist season since 2016, after experiencing down years in production in his past two seasons in Utah.

The Suns now rank second in the league in team assists with 27.6 per contest. This is a drastic jump from last season, where Phoenix ranked 20th and averaged nearly four assists fewer. This stat becomes even more impressive when you consider the surrounding talent (or rather, lack thereof) that have played on the court for the team this season.

In the frontcourt, the 2018 first overall pick Deandre Ayton had been plagued with a hefty suspension to start the year. After failing his drug test following the first regular-season game, Ayton served 25 games as punishment from the NBA. The big man has also missed additional time this season with an ankle sprain, but has since returned to the lineup and has been producing.

Aside from this, there was another hopeful option coming from the center position. Aron Baynes, who was experiencing a breakout season of his own, has been blossoming into a dominant force and giving the Suns another interior defender. Baynes has been producing career highs in both scoring and rebounding, accounting for 11.9 points per contest while bringing down six boards in his time on the floor. However, Baynes has not been immune to the injury bug in Phoenix, missing time for a hip flexor injury early in the season.

The injuries and hardships of the Suns have limited this club after their very hot start, beginning the season with a promising 5-2 record. With Baynes and Ayton both healthy and together on the court, Phoenix may finally develop into a force to be reckoned with in the NBA. Until then, the battle for the final spot in the Western Conference is up for grabs, with Phoenix only sitting 2.5 games behind eighth-place Memphis Grizzlies.

With a shot a playoff position within grasp, Ricky Rubio adds stability to a team that has experienced its fair share of turnover. Despite the poor record, Rubio is in a situation in Phoenix where he can flourish; surrounded by young, developing talent. Rubio’s calm demeanor and unique playstyle give something positive for this team to build around.

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Rubio and the Suns look to build some momentum and get back to playing quality basketball against the New York Knicks Thursday night in Madison Square Garden.