Cleveland Cavaliers point guard Ricky Rubio is finally set to return to the court after having not played in an NBA game since December 2021.
According to league insider Adrian Wojnarowski, the Spanish playmaker could return as early as Thursday against the Portland Trail Blazers.
ESPN Sources: After a full year of rehabilitating an ACL tear in his left knee, Cavaliers guard Ricky Rubio is targeting a return against the Trail Blazers on Thursday. Rubio will practice today, and if all goes well, play in Portland tomorrow. pic.twitter.com/wB5RzNhRdy
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) January 11, 2023
His comeback from an ACL tear will certainly provide the team with more depth as it looks to find a solution for its recent struggles.
After starting the 2022-23 campaign 22-11, the Cavs have lost five of their past nine contests. The drop to 26-16 has resulted in the franchise slipping to fifth place in the Eastern Conference. Hopefully, the addition of Rubio can lead to some improvements, especially on the offensive end of the court.
One of the areas that has been a significant concern for the team all season long has been the lack of ball distribution. The Cavs are dishing out just 23.5 assists per game, which ranks 23rd in the league.
To put up points, Cleveland has relied heavily on the brilliant shotmaking of Donovan Mitchell and Darius Garland. But beyond the two stars, only a few players on the squad can create their own shots.
Hopefully, the presence of a masterful floor general can remedy that issue. For his career, Rubio has recorded 7.6 assists per contest.
During his first stint with the Cavs in the 2021-22 campaign, the former No. 5 overall draft pick assumed some of the ball-handling duties, recording 6.6 assists per match, which was the second highest on the team behind Garland’s 8.6 dimes per game.
Fortunately for the 32-year-old, it shouldn’t take long for him to acclimate himself to the team. After all, he already spent time with many of the Cavs players last season before his injury.
Furthermore, Rubio was previously teammates with Mitchell. The duo played together for the Utah Jazz for two seasons. They started together in the backcourt, so they certainly already know how to play off each other.
The Cavs’ bout against Portland will be the fourth leg of a five-game road trip. The team is looking to finish the trip on a high note after losing two of the first three contests. Perhaps Rubio’s return can give Cleveland a boost.