Blazer Season Preview Part 13: Sergio Rodriguez

The format for previewing the rookies will be a little different than the vets.  Stats--whether from Europe, college, or anywhere else--are unlikely to transfer to the NBA and thus are omitted.  They'd generally tell you what kind of player a guy is but we'll cover than anyway.  Assets and challenges are more of a crapshoot, since if we've seen them play against league competition at all it's only pre-season or summer league.  I'll be depending on folks who watched in college or who have been at the pre-season games to fill in more detail.  Even then, half of this stuff probably goes out the window by the third game of the season.  That's just the way it works.  Still, it's fun to talk about.  (Maybe more fun because the lack of hard data allows for more fanciful speculation!)

Sergio Rodriguez
Height:  6'3"
Weight:  170lbs?  (180?  160?  Depends on who you ask.)
Age:  21
Position:  Point Guard

Assets

--By all accounts Sergio has a knack for passing.  If the roster stays the same he'll be the only naturally gifted distributor on the squad.  He's drawn comparisons to Jason Williams because of his flair.

--Along with the passing comes the ability to handle the ball.  Again this is in short supply.  We really need someone to handle pressure and Rodriguez may turn out to be the one.

--He's not a volume scorer but apparently he can get a shot up when needed.  His field goal percentage has been fairly high.  One report says he also has a knack for drawing fouls.

--6'3" isn't bad for a point guard.

--He's young and there are relatively few early expectations.  He'll have time to grow into whatever potential he has.

Challenges

--His experience is limited.  He didn't even start for his own clubs.  He has a ton to learn.

--As his competition has gotten tougher his stats have declined.  His highest average in any league is 9 points and just under 5 assists.  Compare that to most draftees and he comes up wanting.

--The book on him is that he will help the other team stay in the game as much as he helps yours.  That never, EVER works for NBA point guards no matter how much talent they have.  His decision making will have to improve and he will have to become known for his solid play more than his flashy passing.

--He's not physically imposing. It remains to be seen whether he can take an NBA-level beating or even begin to guard bulkier opposing players.  Defense has never been his emphasis anyway.

--Put all these challenges together and this smells like a player who--unless he buckles down hard--is going to get under Nate's skin big time.

If I got to Sergio in the lineup I'd assume I was either up or down 20.  (Knowing the Blazers, probably up.)  Though it's likely a moot point I'd probably try to get him to shoot or otherwise to break plays.  Let him dribble 62 times until the refs call palming.  He seems like the kind of guy whose very presence could create confusion for his own team.  I'd run at him all day on defense, either blowing past him with a quick guy or bumping him down with a big one.

I don't really expect much from Spanish Chocolate this season.  The playing time he gets will likely be modest and any positive contributions he makes a pleasant surprise.  I just hope he doesn't get discouraged as he's learning.

Those who have watched the pre-season can add on if you wish.

--Dave (blazersub@yahoo.com)

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