The Cleveland Cavaliers are counting down the days until Ricky Rubio is cleared from his torn ACL.
Andscape's Marc J. Spears reported on the Hoop Collective podcast the Cavs are "ecstatic about Rubio's return."
"He means much more to that franchise as a leader and as a guard coming off the bench than I think a lot of people know," Spears said at the 40:20 mark.
Brian Windhorst of ESPN added Cleveland is hopeful that a healthy Rubio will allow Darius Garland to play off the ball a little more.
Rubio initially wasn't thrilled to be traded to the Cavaliers ahead of the 2021-22 season but warmed to the franchise as it far exceeded expectations. The 32-year-old played a key role in Cleveland's hot start, and his knee injury was one reason the team couldn't sustain that level in the second half.
In 34 appearances, the 6'2" guard averaged 13.1 points, 6.6 assists and 1.4 steals. He also shot 33.9 percent from beyond the arc, while his 1.7 made threes per game is a career high.
Because of his lengthy layoff, Rubio will likely have an adjustment period as he gets comfortable on the court again. Even if he isn't as good as he was last season, his presence alone could make a difference for the Cavs.
Raul Neto is ostensibly the backup point guard at the moment, yet he's logging just 8.9 minutes per game. Garland and Donovan Mitchell, meanwhile, are each playing at least 36 minutes a night.
Adding another facilitator to the mix will allow head coach J.B. Bickerstaff to ease the burden on his two best guards, so it's easy to see why Rubio's eventual season debut is such a source of excitement.