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STATS THREAD!: A statistical deep dive into Ricky Rubio’s performance

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Once he adapted to his new role, Ricky Rubio went right back to being one of the NBA’s best point guards.

NBA: Playoffs-Houston Rockets at Utah Jazz Chris Nicoll-USA TODAY Sports

Friday morning means it’s time for another Utah Jazz #STATSTHREAD! And this week, Ricky Rubio’s our subject.

To recap, we’re taking a look at the 2018-19 Jazz roster through a statistical lens. And each week will feature a different player. So far, Rudy Gobert, Derrick Favors and Joe Ingles have all gotten the treatment.

So, without further ado, here’s Rubio...


  • John Stockton and Chris Paul are the only players in NBA history who match Ricky Rubio’s career per-possession averages for points, assists and steals.

Rubio’s averaged 13.1 points, 9.6 assists and 2.4 steals per 75 possessions (about three quarters of a game) over the course of his career. That combination of scoring, playmaking and pilfering puts him in ridiculous company. John Stockton and Chris Paul are two of the five best point guards of all time.

  • The only players who averaged at least as many points, assists and rebounds as Ricky Rubio from January 24 to the end of the season: Blake Griffin, James Harden, LeBron James, Nikola Jokic and Russell Westbrook.

Utah’s season flipped on January 24 when the Jazz beat the Detroit Pistons. And Rubio was a huge part of the 29-6 closing kick. His 16 points, 6.1 assists and 5.3 rebounds over that span was matched only by some of the biggest names in the league.

  • Since the 2011-12 season (Ricky Rubio’s first), Rubio is third in total steals, eighth in assists and 59th in Wins Over Replacement Player.

Rubio’s stat lines generally don’t jump off the screen. Mostly because it’s just points (and nothing else) that jumps off the screen for a good chunk of NBA fans. But he does so much to help his team win. Wins Over Replacement Player does a decent job of capturing his contributions.

  • Among players with at least 10,000 career minutes, Ricky Rubio is 20th all time in career Steal Percentage. He’s fourth if you limit the sample to the last 20 years.

Back in 2014, FiveThirtyEight’s Benjamin Morris wrote an interesting piece on the value of a steal in the NBA, and estimated each one may be worth as many as nine points.

“Yes, this pretty much means a steal is ‘worth; as much as nine points,” Morris wrote. “To put it more precisely: A marginal steal is weighted nine times more heavily when predicting a player’s impact than a marginal point.”

So, no, Rubio doesn’t score a ton of points. But he adds so much that leads to points.

  • ESPN’s Real Plus-Minus has been around for five seasons. Ricky Rubio’s never finished worse than 15th among point guards. He’s finished as high as sixth at the position.

How often is Rubio talked about among the NBA’s best point guards? Over the last five years, his average rank in Real Plus-Minus is just above 10.

  • Ricky Rubio scored one point per isolation this season, which put him in the 81st percentile. LeBron James, John Wall and Jimmy Butler are just a few of the players who averaged fewer points per iso.

In 2016-17, Rubio was in the 22nd percentile as an isolation scorer. It took a couple months to adapt, but playing for Quin Snyder revolutionized his game. By the end of the season, he had comfortable career highs in points per game, field goal percentage, three-point percentage and Effective Field Goal Percentage.

  • LeBron James, Ben Simmons and Russell Westbrook are the only players who matched Ricky Rubio’s points per game, rebounds per game, assists per game and total minutes in the 2018 playoffs.

Rubio made his first playoff appearance this year. And he had a heck of a debut.

Unless otherwise noted, stats courtesy of NBA.com, Basketball Reference or ESPN.
Andy Bailey covers the NBA for SLC Dunk and Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter (@AndrewDBailey) and listen to his Hardwood Knocks podcast, co-hosted by B/R’s Dan Favale.