Cleveland Cavaliers: How loss of Ricky Rubio could impact the Cavs

Ricky Rubio (Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports)
Ricky Rubio (Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports) /

Exploring how the loss of Ricky Rubio could hurt the Cleveland Cavaliers. 

When the Cleveland Cavaliers acquired Ricky Rubio roughly two months before the 2021-22 NBA season, it was viewed as nothing more than an afterthought. In fact, there were probably many that assumed the Cavs would end up buying Rubio out before the end of the season.

However, as the season has progressed, Rubio has been much more than a valued veteran presence in the locker room. While he has been that, he’s also been so valuable to the team on the floor as well.

Now that he’s slated to miss the remainder of the 2021-22 NBA season with a torn ACL, you can’t help but wonder where that will leave Cleveland’s backcourt heading into the second half of the season – especially considering this team has already lost Collin Sexton earlier this season.

In his 11th season in the league, Rubio was averaging a career-high in points per game (13.1) and 6.6 assists per game in 28 minutes per contest off the bench. The counting stats don’t tell the entire story for Rubio, though.

His impact and value to the Cavs this season has gone much further than his 13 points and six assists per game; nothing could explain Rubio’s impact more than this stat, per ESPN:

"The Cavaliers have had a +16.1 net efficiency when Ricky Rubio and Darius Garland have shared the floor this season. That is the best of any 2-man lineup to play 500 minutes together."

Especially in the absence of Sexton, Rubio had emerged as a calling force for the Cavs. He was the team’s only true point guard, second on the team in assists, and tied for being the leading scorer for the Cavs off the bench along with Kevin Love.

The expectation is that the Cavs will try to survive without Rubio with leaning on their depth, but it wouldn’t be in the least surprising if they explored the trade market at some point before the deadline to try to add some depth to their backcourt.

Beyond this season, there is some reason for concern for Rubio. Especially considering that he’s an unrestricted free agent after the season. What has happened to Rubio is really unfortunate all around, considering the season that Rubio was having and the impact he was having for the Cavs.

If Cleveland hasn’t had to endure enough this season, they’re going to have to overcome the loss of a true leader. For an upstart team such as the Cavs, this is far from an ideal development.