Utah Jazz: What to expect from Ricky Rubio this season

(Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
(Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) /

 Ricky Rubio has found his ideal fit in the Utah Jazz. Can Quin Snyder be the coach to untap all of the Spaniard’s potential?

George Hill was a large reason why the Utah Jazz were able to close the gap on the Western Conference’s elite teams last year. As a good facilitator, decent scorer and handy defender, Hill was exactly what coach Quin Snyder was after — when he was healthy.

The 31-year-old point guard was only available for 49 games in the 2016-17 season. Battling knee and toe injuries, Hill could never get a tight grasp on the team in which he could have been the general.

With that — and Hill’s demand for an inordinate sum of money to re-sign — he was out the door with Ricky Rubio in as his replacement.

More from Hoops Habit

For a top-14 protected 2018 first round pick via the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Jazz had their new floor general.

Rubio has had his fair share of injuries, but the 26-year-old Spaniard is hitting the prime of his career on the back of two seasons where he started 76 and 75 games.

The health is there, and so is the ability.

William Bohl who covers the Minnesota Timberwolves for A Wolf Among Wolves offered up some insight into what they lose, but the Jazz gain:

"“His tough, energetic defense, command of the floor on offense, lobs thrown, pockets picked, nuts megged, the flash, the flair, the quirky stat lines and game-winners – it was all a part of the Ricky Rubio Experience. It’s what endeared so many of us to him, and it’s what makes his trade to the Utah Jazz so very bittersweet.”"

With those in Minnesota sad to see him go, what can we expect from this “Ricky Rubio Experience” in Utah this season?

As an exceptional passer, Rubio is going to have a field day in pick and roll scenarios with Rudy Gobert set to see a boost in his scoring numbers. Scoring 14 points per game last year, Gobert can expect to see plenty more touches from Rubio who sent 26 percent of his passes to Karl Anthony-Towns last year.

Related Story: Utah Jazz: 3 reasons why they will make the playoffs in 2018

His ability to look ahead (5:54), in his peripherals (4:05) and behind him (0:30) all at once are on display in this video and will have Jazz fans eager for the season opener:

On the perimeter, the likes of Joe Johnson, Joe Ingles, and Rodney Hood are going to have good looks come their way at regular intervals with Rubio’s ability to drive and pass out of traffic. His creativity is something that won’t go unnoticed when making comparisons to how the offense ran under Hill last season.

Where Rubio does fall short, is scoring the ball.

His 11.1 points per game on 40 percent shooting will need to improve but joining the slowest team in the league could help that.

Snyder isn’t going to run plays that demand Rubio scores. If the shot is there, he will take it, but his 48 percent shooting on layup’s compared to 38 percent on jump shots will surely come into consideration when the Jazz determine where they get their points.

Even before Gordon Hayward announced he was leaving the franchise, Rubio’s arrival was always going to give this offense a rejuvenated identity — slow and steady, yet fast moving and meticulous.

People often refer to his untapped potential, but this system is ideal for Rubio and Snyder has an uncanny knack for getting the most out of his players.

Rubio will be tasked with distributing the ball, but once he does, he will be on the move with plenty of cuts to the basket likely to be drawn up on Synder’s whiteboard.

Gobert is set to benefit most from the change at point guard but whether or not that translates into team wins remains to be seen. One thing we do know, though, is the Jazz aren’t going to sit back and wait for the Golden State Warriors to decline.

Next: The biggest winners and losers of 2017 NBA free agency

They’re aiming up with Rubio front and center.