Suns’ Ricky Rubio a ‘player to watch’ in Orlando restart, says FiveThirtyEight

Jul 31, 2020, 1:46 PM
Phoenix Suns guard Ricky Rubio (11) drives as Golden State Warriors guard Damion Lee (1) defends du...

Phoenix Suns guard Ricky Rubio (11) drives as Golden State Warriors guard Damion Lee (1) defends during the second half of an NBA basketball game Saturday, Feb. 29, 2020, in Phoenix. The Warriors won 115-99. (AP Photo/Matt York)

(AP Photo/Matt York)

As the Phoenix Suns got underway against the Wizards in Orlando on Friday, there’s little hope or chance that this NBA bubble will lead to the Suns getting into the playoffs. It’s more likely to be eight games and then a trip back home.

So, if you’re looking for something to watch around the league other than wins and losses, analytics website FiveThirtyEight listed some players to keep your eye on. One of those names was Ricky Rubio.

According to FiveThirtyEight, there are eight teams have a lesser chance of making the playoffs, some of which are just along for the ride. The site identified the players on those teams who rate the highest in RAPTOR, their own metric that measures a players effect on his team’s play (per FiveThirtyEight: Robust Algorithm (using) Player Tracking (and) On/Off Ratings).

Rubio leads the Suns in that metric this season, coming in at +1.8 points per 100 possessions.

The Suns have a good ensemble cast of starters, so a few of them could make a case as Phoenix’s player to watch. But the team’s best RAPTOR rating (+1.8) belongs to Rubio, whose arrival via free agency last summer helped the Suns improve enough to even be in this position. With Rubio on the court, the Suns score 6.7 more points/100 than when he sits, and they allow 3.3 fewer points/100 — meaning Phoenix’s overall performance is about 10 points/100 better when Rubio is in the game.

Rubio, the Suns long-awaited starting point guard who filled a void after Phoenix was left wandering in the desert at that position, has been a solid add, as evidenced by this analysis.

The article’s author, Neil Paine, attributed Rubio’s success to chemistry with star guard Devin Booker and spark plug Kelly Oubre Jr. He leads the Suns in assist rate at 39.9%, Paine notes, though he has regressed some on defense.

Rubio has averaged a career-best 13.1 points per game in 2019-20 to go along with 8.9 assists per game, the second highest mark of his career.

Phoenix Suns

Phoenix Suns guard Chris Paul (3) drives as Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving (11) defends during th...
Arizona Sports

Chris Paul, Jae Crowder reportedly offered by Suns for Kyrie Irving

Point guard Chris Paul was included in a Phoenix Suns offer to acquire former Brooklyn Nets point guard Kyrie Irving, per a report.
23 hours ago
Head coach Monty Williams of the Phoenix Suns talks with Chris Paul #3 and Devin Booker #1 during t...
Arizona Sports

Suns coach Monty Williams calls Devin Booker missing All-Star Game a ‘Joke’

Phoenix Suns head coach Monty Williams was disappointed to see Devin Booker kept off the All-Star Game reserves list.
23 hours ago
Kyrie Irving #11 and Kevin Durant #7 of the Brooklyn Nets talk during a break in the action during ...
Arizona Sports

Report: Suns prepared to pursue Kevin Durant after Kyrie Irving traded to Mavericks

Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving is headed to the Dallas Mavericks via trade, according to multiple reports. 
23 hours ago
Phoenix Suns forward Mikal Bridges (25) drives on Detroit Pistons guard Jaden Ivey (23) in the firs...
Kellan Olson

Suns continue to find success through Ayton, Bridges in win vs. Pistons

The Suns continue to put together wins in the last three weeks, a huge surprise considering they are still playing without Devin Booker.
2 days ago
Phoenix Suns center Deandre Ayton (22) drives on Detroit Pistons guard Jaden Ivey (23) in the first...
Wills Rice

Deandre Ayton’s monster night leads Suns to win over Pistons

The Suns' starters carried the load Saturday night for a 116-100 win over the Pistons, thanks to 31 points from center Deandre Ayton.
2 days ago
Phoenix Suns' Mikal Bridges (25) shoots against Boston Celtics' Derrick White, top left, and Al Hor...
Kellan Olson

Phoenix Suns respond with complete effort to beat Boston Celtics

It was going to take their full arsenal in a shorthanded state to come out with a win, and that's what the Suns deployed on the Celtics.
3 days ago
Suns’ Ricky Rubio a ‘player to watch’ in Orlando restart, says FiveThirtyEight