Have you seen Ricky Rubio lately? This isn’t the jovial, dime-dropping Spaniard from way back when. This is a man who’s seen things, who’s learned things the hard way, who’s decided to take matters into his own hands. This is the gritty reboot of Ricky Rubio.
Grim Rick on Wednesday dropped the emphatically un-Rubio line of 30 points and one assist—the second-highest scoring sum of his career—and poured in 10 points in the fourth quarter, then 11 more in OT, including the dagger three that put the Blazers to rest.
After trying to raise a pack of young Wolves, Rubio has found himself a Jazz team that’s a slaughterhouse on D (third in defensive rating, with Rudy Gobert as its imposing centerpiece) but lacking in pure scoring options beyond Rodney Hood (though perhaps not for long, judging by early Donovan Mitchell returns). So Rubio has crawled out of his pass-first shell. He’s shooting, and shooting shots you might not recall him ever shooting before. Once tentative to pull up from midrange, he’s now ninth in the league in shooting percentage from that territory, nailing them at a 52.2 percent clip, setting up for calm jumpers just past the free throw line and banking in wild leaners. Through eight games he’s putting up a career-high 17.5 points.
Is it a hot streak, or a metamorphosis? Soft Ricky averaged 37.8 percent from the floor in his career. Grim Rick averages a career-high 43.7 percent (up from last year’s 40.2 percent). Soft Ricky shot 31.8 percent from three and 83.3 percent from the line in his career. Grim Rick shoots career highs of 37.2 (up from last year’s 30.6) and 91.9 (up from last year’s 89.1). Grim Rick now knows he has to take charge of the situation sometimes: he’s running a career-high usage rate of 26.1 percent and a career-low assist rate of 33.1 percent. Maybe you fell in love with the fresh-faced mixtape darling for his handles and unselfishness, but you should ready yourself for something new—something darker, hairier, and lethal—lurking on the horizon.