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2022-23 Cleveland Cavaliers season preview: Ricky Rubio

It worked ridiculously well the first time. Why not run it back?

NBA: Cleveland Cavaliers at Milwaukee Bucks Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

Ahhh, the crushing blow that Cleveland Cavaliers fans sustained just after Christmas when Ricky Rubio tore his ACL, halting a brillant season. It’s like the replacement valve in our collective, wounded hearts had burst wide open – not RUBIOOOOOOOOO!

Position: PG
Age: 31
Height: 6’ 2”
Weight: 190
2021-22 stats: 34 games played, 30.3 minutes, 11.1 points , 4.2 rebounds, 7.6 assists with .389/.326/.843 shooting splits

There were reasons for the emotion, of course – things of poetry. Namely his mesmerizing off-the-bench 37-point performance – brilliantly accessorized with 10 assists, a double-double and career-high 8 three-pointers – blasting the Knicks last November.

As fate would have it, we’re back at it again for a 2022-23 Rubio Remix — this time offering a throwback collab with a freshly-minted Donovan Mitchell who knows that free-flowing, Spanish bob well from his days in Utah. Much like all returning loves, however, Cleveland will have to tread lightly. While nothing is set in stone, there have been whispers of an anticipated return date, but not until sometime in February 2023.

Prior to his injury, Rubio put up some shockingly solid numbers last year – something no one really expected. In his bounce-back 11th season, Rubio averaged 13.1 points, 6.6 assists and 4.1 rebounds in 34 games, almost exclusively coming off the bench.

The Cavs signed Rubio to a three-year, $18.4 million deal this July, with the final season of his contract only partially guaranteed – all for good reason. With this being the second ACL injury Rubio has sustained to his left knee, getting back to game shape may prove tedious for the 31-year-old guard. What we can confidently expect, however, is that Rubio’s largest contribution will be the leadership and guidance he provides to the Cavs’ young core, particularly to Darius Garland… whose star is excitingly still rising.

If Rubio can somehow make it onto the court healthy after mid-season, the Cavs will again be gifted a veteran facilitator who can demonstrate the effort it takes to bounce back from serious injury – just another ‘lead by example’ advantage that Rubio brings to the table. His court vision and veteran knowledge will give Garland a comfortable break from managing the ball, and added boost heading into the final stretch of the season. It’s a low-risk gamble for the Cavs as they push through the stacked Eastern Conference with the goal of making it deep into the playoffs for the first time since LeBron James’ departure in 2018.

And, with Mitchell in town, perhaps there’s less pressure on Rubio to be exactly what we was last year.