Rubio’s Substitution Pattern
That brings me to Ricky Rubio‘s substitution pattern. Part of me understands the rationale. Monty wants to keep either Booker or Rubio in at all times. However, what that has led to is this weird mid-quarter break for Rubio.
It isn’t so big of a deal in the first quarter, when he comes out after five minutes or so, takes a few minute rest, and re-enters near the end of the first quarter, when Booker take his first break.
But Monty follows this same pattern in the fourth quarter, and the strategy blows my mind.
Last game against the Grizzlies, right as the Suns built some momentum and were attempting to make the game close down 10, Elie Okobo subbed in for Rubio with 4:12 left in the game.
Rubio then checked back into the game for Okobo at the next timeout with 3:48 left.
What? Why? Did he really need a break? It seems like they were lucky to get a dead ball here because otherwise, Okobo would have much more than 24 seconds during the most crucial part of the game.
Maybe it was just a quick breather, but that substitution pattern has been a constant over the last several games, and seems to be counter-productive in late-game situations if the game is within the Suns’ grasp, especially considering the well-documented talent gap between Rubio and everyone playing behind him.
In the end, I’m not NBA coach. I’m barely qualified to be the 5th grade girls coach I was a decade ago. But to my overly-simplistic, practice-absent, all-I-see-is-what-happens-in-games mind, the rotation and substitution patterns are all over the map right now and during this crucial, easier stretch of the season where the Suns are setup to go on a winning streak.
It seems to be a bad time to tinkering. Hopefully, Monty can find a winning combination soon and stick with it.