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Is Ricky Rubio part of a Jazz “Big Three”?

The Spanish Samurai is undoubtedly a starter, but how much better does he make the Jazz?

NBA: Playoffs-Oklahoma City Thunder at Utah Jazz Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

Note: Sorry for the Downbeat coming in a little late today. I was planning on writing it during my lunch break, but fate had other plans. Literally one sentence into my writing I spilled tomato sauce all over my shirt and carpet, and subsequently spent the remainder of my break cleaning that up. Oops.

Let me start this off by dropping a set of stats for a few starting point guards. I chose these players because on multiple “top 15 point guard” lists, Jrue Holiday, Goran Dragic, Mike Conley, and Kemba Walker almost always appear ahead of Ricky Rubio. I wanted to do a little myth busting and see if this was really the case. Keep in mind that all of these players except Ricky and Mike Conley (a major snub in common opinion) have been selected to at least one all-star game. Here are their per-36 minute stats, so minute distributions

We see here maybe a confirmation of many typical beliefs. Kemba scores a bunch. Ricky is the best passer and rebounder. Jrue is a great scorer inside the 3pt line. Dragic is a little average at everything, but he and Conley score at a respectable rate. Conley has a knack of getting to the free throw line. Let’s take a look at the advanced stats.

These might confirm a few of the opinions I stated above. Ricky is confirmed to be the best rebounder, assist-disher, and likely the best defender of the bunch—depending on how you personally interpret the defensive stats. He also does all of this with the lowest USG% of the five. It starts to become apparent how important Ricky is to a team’s success. Sure the other guys may have better individual skills such as volume scoring, finishing at the rim, 3pt shooting, etc., but Ricky doesn’t seem to have many glaring weaknesses either. Many people cringe when he shoots a three, but if you take a look at the last half of the season, from game 41 to 82, Ricky shot 42.1% from three. I would not call that a weakness. Ricky used to have trouble finishing at the rim, finishing most seasons around the 48% mark. Last season he shot 52.6% at the rim—still not necessarily elite, but not a glaring weakness either.

This was meant to be a quick-hitter opinion appetizer, with a small side of statistics, so I won’t delve much deeper than this here. Let me leave you with a take though. Ricky Rubio is, in my opinion, the second-best player on that stat chart. He is the Utah Jazz’ Steven Adams, a guy who is not commonly considered a star, but whose impact on the game earns him the third spot in what is essentially a “big three”.

Buy up your Utah real-estate now while you can. Donovan is going to single-handedly make this state’s population double with some of the publicity he’s getting under a spotlight that Utah has never had before.

Speaking of Donovan Mitchell, Bleacher Report put out a piece on 2018’s Most Influential People in Sports. Guess who made the list?

This year, Donovan Mitchell has been learning to live with mobs. In New York for the NBA draft in June, he stopped at a Champs Sports to shake some hands and sign some shoes. After the event, he expected to sneak out a side exit but instead was confronted with a cascading wave of fans rushing in for unsanctioned signatures. As they pointed their phones at him, he in turn focused his phone’s camera on them. Arms flung forward to pat his shoulders, and feet ran after his SUV as it sputtered away in Times Square traffic. Through it all, Mitchell just smiled.

That’s not how most people would react to a mob, but for Mitchell this kind of attention is still a pleasant surprise. He wasn’t the No. 1 pick in the draft; he barely broke into the lottery. And he didn’t win Rookie of the Year—even if he did some damage to the NBA’s definition of the word “rookie.” But he still had the glow-up of all glow-ups when so few expected him to. In his first pro season, Mitchell cozied up to the kings of the league, helped a recently spurned fanbase learn to love again and even added a word to the dictionary.

It’s a great article, I strongly recommend a click-through to the whole piece.

The NBA Twitter account posted this video of each team’s best “H-O-R-S-E” shot of the season. Do you agree with the one they picked for the Jazz?

This reminds me of a video I remember seeing a year or two ago of Pistol Pete Maravich participating in a game of H-O-R-S-E vs NBA scoring leader George Gervin during the 1977-78 All-Star Weekend.

As is mentioned in this video, this is where Pistol Pete advances to the semifinals of the H-O-R-S-E challenge. Feel free to look up some of Pistol Pete’s other videos from the competition. Sadly, he did not end up winning it all, as he was injured before the final match.

Often to avoid looking forward at the long wait for more Jazz basketball, I look backward to past years of Jazz basketball for entertainment. Now, these may not be the most popular years to bring up, and for that I apologize. However, Paul Millsap should almost be considered a Jazz folk hero for his time spent here. Many of you may have tried to forget the name of a certain “Conqueror”. Yes, I am bringing back a video of Big Al Jefferson, Esq. Now that we are so far displaced from those years, maybe we can appreciate a couple of those players that had to deal with the fallout of one of the biggest trades in Utah Jazz history. I’m talking of course about the Deron Williams-to-Brooklyn trade. With Jerry Sloan retiring, D-Will gone, and a leftover roster built largely around those two people, the Jazz suddenly lacked an identity. Instead of hating on certain players and coaches, I’d like to give them a little respect. It must have been difficult to start a team rebuild from the ground up. Mistakes were probably made, but look where we are now thanks to everything. Hindsight may be 20/20, but we would not be where we are today cheering for a defensive juggernaut that has Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert, if it weren’t for players like Paul Millsap and Big Al. Not to mention those two were huge mentors for our current starter Derrick Favors. Now, enough talk, let’s get to the highlights.