Cavs Media Day: Darius Garland speaks glowingly about Ricky Rubio

Cleveland Cavaliers guard Ricky Rubio poses for a photo at the team's media day. (Photo by Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports)
Cleveland Cavaliers guard Ricky Rubio poses for a photo at the team's media day. (Photo by Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports) /

Heading into this upcoming season, it’s easy to understand why the Cleveland Cavaliers acquired Ricky Rubio via trade from the Minnesota Timberwolves this offseason. Yes, I get that most notably in that deal, Cleveland had to send out quality three-point shooter, Taurean Prince.

Prince had issues staying healthy last year after having been acquired from the Brooklyn Nets, though, and even with both being expiring, with Prince previously a player mentioned in trade rumors, it wasn’t surprising that he was moved.

Along with that, it was apparent that Cleveland had a void at the backup point guard spot. The Cavs have a starting lead guard on the rise in Darius Garland, but the team needed stability and a quality veteran at the backup 1 spot, and while he’ll be expiring, and is set to make $17.8 million in 2021-22, Rubio will be a big upgrade there.

The backup 1 was a position in continual flux last season, as Matthew Dellavedova struggled with injuries, and Rubio is simply a clear upgrade overall at this juncture.

Now, again, he’s not going to be filling in as a starter, aside from maybe at times due to injury. The veteran lead guard will be a valuable player for Cleveland still for stretches, though, and his defense and outstanding passing abilities/vision should lead to him still being a key bench piece.

He’s had 9.1 assists per-36 minutes for his career, to go with 2.2 steals per-36, and he should provide quite a lift.

Behind the scenes and from a leadership standpoint, while I’m not discounting what Dellavedova seemingly provided in that aspect for Cleveland, with the success Rubio’s had, however, Garland and the team should really benefit from his presence. In an introductory presser, Rubio hit on how he’ll be helping as a mentor, too, and his experience should be quite a resource for the likes of Garland and Collin Sexton, among others.

Along those lines, in the Cavs Media Day on Monday, of which you can view the team’s steam of here, Garland essentially echoed that sentiment, and he’ll certainly be learning his share from Rubio.

Garland touched on how he foresees Kevin Love, who is looking to be a “positive force” for the team, and Rubio as being leaders for the club, hopefully for a playoff push. The youngster is pumped to have Rubio around, and rightfully so; that was shown here, via Evan Dammarell of Fear The Sword and the “Locked on Cavs” podcast, affiliated with WKYC.

Cavs: Rubio should be invaluable for Garland’s continued progression, and the youngster is excited to learn from him.

After a fairly underwhelming rookie year, Garland had a bounce-back campaign in Year 2 for the Wine and Gold, as he had 17.4 points per contest, and his playmaking was a key bright spot. In that realm, he had 6.1 assists per outing, and his vision was on display often throughout games.

For his continued progression for the Cavs, though, he’ll need to show further growth in that regard, and Rubio should be invaluble for Garland in that area as a resource.

The veteran, who will be entering his 11th season and is set to turn 31 next month, still can be a crucial piece for this Cavaliers team as they look to make a push toward for the postseason, sure, and I’m not glossing over that.

But the effect he could have on Garland as an overall floor general and helping the team offense function throughout games, and how he helps get other guys their preferred looks should be huge as well, one would assume.

Granted, I want to see Garland look to be more aggressive as a scorer at times when he has it rolling, and him at times I’d think playing with Rubio could aid him in that way, even.

Related Story. Cavs: Garland has been working on extending his range. light

In a general sense, though, I’d imagine that Rubio, who has reportedly made quite a difference from a leadership perspective for Devin Booker previously with the Phoenix Suns, and this past season for Anthony Edwards with Minnesota, for instance, should play into him aiding Garland’s growth. He did the same for Donovan Mitchell with the Utah Jazz, for further context.

In any case, it’s refreshing that Garland, who many NBA executives reportedly believe is primed for a breakout season in 2021-22, is looking forward to advice from Rubio.

No, Rubio, who is a career 32.5 percent three-point shooter, is not the scoring/shooting presence of Garland, nor does he have the quickness on-ball. That said, he’s such a heady player, tough defender, and his vision and passing abilities could very well have a lasting impact on Garland, and perhaps other guys.

As Garland relayed, one would think Rubio should be a key leadership presence for the Wine and Gold this season, too.

dark. Next. Cavs: Predicting the final 15-man roster as training camp opens

And while he is set to be expiring, I could possibly foresee him sticking through the season and maybe next offseason he/his representation and the Cavs could perhaps come to an agreement on a reasonable deal. We’ll have to see what plays out regarding the potential cap outlook, though.