SALT LAKE CITY — You may remember last season when Utah Jazz guard Ricky Rubio finally broke out his shell and started finding his groove during the month of January.
His 11 double-doubles in a career-high 77 starts would ultimately help the Jazz rebound from a tumultuous 19-28 start to earn a fifth-seed in the Western Conference, at 48-34.
All along, Rubio quietly praised a person behind the scenes: Raul Lopez.
“Yeah, he came last week,” Rubio told the Deseret News after a 129-99 victory against the Golden State Warriors on Tuesday, Jan. 30. “I’ve been working out with him the last summer. He gives me a lot of confidence.”
Coach Quin Snyder has now added Lopez, a former Jazz point guard, to his coaching staff. He worked with Rubio and Alec Burks alongside assistant coach Jeff Watkinson during the first day of training camp on Tuesday.
Snyder says you can expect to see Lopez around a lot this year.
“We all know Raul from when he was drafted here and often times, similar to (Jazz associate coach) DeSagana Diop, we’ve had situations where we felt like a particular guy that’s a former player has a perspective that they can add,” Snyder said. “I think DeSagana’s done that with (Derrick Favors) and (Ekpe Udoh) and we wanted Raul to be a part of the group and not only for Ricky, because obviously the relationship’s there, but to have an opportunity to work with our guys in the context of the coaching staff."
Here is footage of former Jazz point guard Raul Lopez helping with Ricky Rubio and Alec Burks during the first day of training camp. Both guys are from Spain. pic.twitter.com/BozWInlXtn— Eric Woodyard (@E_Woodyard) September 25, 2018
Lopez, 38, expressed an interest this off-season to help Snyder and his staff and they jumped at the opportunity. In addition to being selected 24th overall by the Jazz in the 2001 NBA Draft and holding a Spanish connection to Rubio, he also played overseas for new assistant Fotis Katsikaris.
He spent two seasons with the Jazz from 2003-05, averaging 6.5 points and 3.8 assists in 113 games.
“He’s got a lot of familiarity with the program and he wanted to dive into coaching and I mentioned yesterday the D.A.V. program, where we have guys that want to get exposed to coaching with the development, advanced scouting and the video and all those components,” Snyder said. “Although Raul isn’t technically a part of that program, he’s going to be getting his hands dirty with a lot of stuff in addition to doing the things that he needs to help with for Ricky.”