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Is Utah’s Ricky Rubio better or worse with a man-bun?

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The definitive statistical guide to Ricky Rubio’s man-bun.

NBA: Sacramento Kings at Utah Jazz Jeff Swinger-USA TODAY Sports

With all of the changes that Ricky Rubio has made to his game this season—a more reliable jump shot, more shot attempts per game, less assists—one gets singled in day in and day out more than all the others: his hair. It takes less than 5 minutes for opposing announcers to identify Rubio’s new look whether he’s going full Rick Grimes from the Walking Dead or going Spanish Samurai with a man-bun. This is such a hot button topic that it’s one of the low key best matchups in the Oklahoma City Thunder versus Utah Jazz matchup: Rubio’s man-bun vs Steven Adams man-bun.

Just as it is for any hipster, though, the question should not be, “Can I grow a man-bun?” The question should be, “Should I grow a man-bun?” That is what we’re out to solve today. This is going to be the definitive stat guide to Ricky Rubio’s man-bun. Is Ricky Rubio a better player with a man-bun or without a man-bun?

I know what you’re thinking. Did I actually spend an entire Friday night going through game film to see if Ricky Rubio wore his hair up in a man-bun? You’re damn right I did. Let’s provide some context into Ricky Rubio’s hair choices. The Ricky Rubio man-bun first made its appearance in Utah’s scrimmage at Hill Air Force Base.

It made a couple appearances in preseason, but once the Utah Jazz season started Ricky Rubio went full Rick Grimes. Beard, greasy hair, ready to defend Utah against zombies.

Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

Ricky Rubio would then play the next 60 games of the season sans man-bun with only three exceptions: vs Philadelphia 76ers (game 11), @ New York Knicks (game 15), vs New Orleans Pelicans (game 23). The Utah Jazz went 1-2 in that stretch. Rubio went a combined 8 for 33 from the field in those games. Ricky then abandoned any use of the man-bun until March 7th, the 65th game of the season. There have been some strong opinions of the power—or lack thereof—of Rubio’s luscious locks.

So what do the numbers say about Ricky Rubio Man-Bun vs No Man-Bun? Well ... let’s just go to the basic stats first.

Ricky Rubio with a man-bun scores 3.2 more points per game, pulls down 0.9 more rebounds, dishes 0.2 more assists, and turns the ball over 0.7 times less. Now, of course, these are just the base numbers. So what if Ricky is scoring more? Is he doing it efficiently and helping the team? Great question. Short answer: yes.

First of all his field goal percentage goes up by 3 percentage points and his three point percentage goes up by 10 percentage points. Man-Bun Ricky is a dead eye from long range. Man-Bun Ricky also takes two more shot attempts per game and he’s converting more of them. One out of those two shot attempts turns out to be a three pointer which increases his effective field goal percentage. Check out the advanced stats between Ricky Grimes and Man-Bun Ricky.

Not only is Man-Bun Ricky a better shooter, but he’s a more efficient scorer. Not only that his +/- with a man-bun is a full +9.0 better than when he has no man-bun. Ricky Rubio with a man-bun is a 15 point, 5 rebound, and 5 assist player who is an efficient scorer and ball distributor. Ricky Rubio’s usage rate does increase by 2 percentage points when he adorns the man bun, that has to mean more turnovers right? Wrong.

Ricky Rubio actually averages 0.7 less turnovers despite having a higher usage rate. His turnover percentage confirms this. It’s not the byproduct of possibly playing less minutes. Ricky Grimes averages a turnover percentage of 20.1% while Man-Bun Ricky averages a turnover percentage of 12.1%.

So these are all offensive stats. There’s two sides of the ball and we all remember the Dennis Schroeder/Atlanta Hawks game. Man-Bun Ricky got roasted in that game. He can’t be that much better defensively than Ricky Grimes. Well ... actually ... he is and significantly so.

Let’s go to net rating.

Man-Bun Ricky is the man of our dreams, and it’s not just because he wears a man-bun. It’s because he wears a man bun, is damn sexy, and plays like the point guard of our dreams. I know that offensive and defensive rating is affected by who he plays with, but this also shows he’s not a dead weight on the team. He makes his team better when he’s out there. There’s a difference of +15.4 on offensive rating and +6.3 on defensive rating when he has the man-bun. Not only that his steal percentage climbs to 2.92% from 2.63% when he has the man-bun. It’s the power of the man-bun. He’s liberated. He’s free.

There are some EXTREMELY big notes to all of this data. Ricky didn’t play most of the season with the man-bun until March 7th. That means most of Ricky’s time with the man-bun has been coinciding with Utah’s miraculous playoff push. You could say it’s just coincidence OR you can look at the data and see it’s plain as day that Ricky Rubio’s man bun is the magic behind this entire run. The Utah Jazz without Ricky’s man-bun went 30-27. With Ricky’s man-bun? 14-6.

So the next time you see that beautiful mane of hair that Ricky Rubio possesses on the court, you better pray to the basketball gods that it’s put up in a bun.

NBA: Sacramento Kings at Utah Jazz Jeff Swinger-USA TODAY Sports

Unless otherwise noted, stats courtesy of NBA.com or Basketball Reference.