With Greg Oden down and no real games distracting our attention yet, it's natural for Blazer fans to look towards the future of the squad. The most heralded event of 2008 will be Oden's return. But I couldn't help but notice that another rising star is seeping into the consciousness of the Blazer faithful. You're starting to see more and more speculation about Spanish wing Rudy Fernandez...how good he might be and what he might mean to the team next year and beyond.
Since few of us have seen Rudy play in person, I decided we needed to talk to some people who have. So here are some quotes from various sources in the know about Rudy. We asked all of them the same questions: Is he really that good? What kind of an impact do you think he will have on the NBA?
Disclaimer: Many of these responses came in a language other than English. The Blazersedge Foreign Service Department did their best to come up with accurate translations, but we cannot be held 100% responsible for the results. We apologize in advance for any small inaccuracies.
From an assistant coach on the development squad for the Spanish National Team:
Oh yes...Rudy is fantastic. I saw him once, in this game...he was being guarded by the second-best player in the league. It was a matchup for all the papers. Normally Rudy would drive into the lane but in this game the other player was not guarding him well. So he hit six three pointers in a row, tying a playoff record. After the final one he looked at the opposing team and gave a shrug as if to say, "If you're not going to guard me..." It was very impressive.
From a television broadcast play-by-play man in Spain:
Let me tell you this. It was the most incredible play I have ever seen. Rudy was driving the lane, straight down the middle. He went against the whole team and nobody could stop him. He leapt into the air to lay it in but he noticed an opponent coming to block his attempt. Rudy is right-handed, of course, but when he saw the opponent coming he brought the ball back down, switched it to his left hand, and laid it in on the other side of the rim...all in one jump. I can see it almost as if it were in slow motion. Such grace!
From an opponent on the French National Team:
Ah...Rudee. He is, how you say? Amazing. I am ze center on ze team. Normally I would not guard such a player. But our little men were getting...what is ze word I am looking for? Toasted. That is it. So while Rudee was driving I slid over to bring ze help. He looked me right in ze eye, made a quick jab step to ze left, jumped, and then it happened. He stuck out his tongue. You always know you are in ze trouble when he sticks out his tongue. When he stuck out his tongue many cigarette ashes fell out. Ze ashes got into my eyes and nose. I could not see anymore and could not block ze shot. It was sick. But so was ze dunk he threw down. He is...how you say? Unstoppable.
From an editor of a European scouting blog:
Oh yeah...everybody knows R-Fer can put on a fantastic display. Just the other day they showed a 30-second clip on TV. Rudy blocked every single shot that Kevin Bacon put up. It didn't matter if it was a basketball, a kernel of popcorn, a piece of wadded up paper...he just swatted it all to heck. Kevin Bacon is no slouch, you know. He could probably get decent minutes in a B-league somewhere. It just shows Rudy's defensive ability. He's the complete player. I mean I used to be impressed by that clip they showed of Rudy shooting with this other guy...the one where he says, "Over the Eiffel Tower, bank off the Mona Lisa's nose, skip the Seine, nothing but net" and then he does it. But this defensive display was awesome. Best...defender...ever.
From an Eastern Conference executive who wishes to remain anonymous:
He's a good player. One of the best really. But we have some questions. The guy's physical report had red dots all over it: spleen, lungs...thirty two on his face alone. A secret ultrasound we took showed his appendix isn't functioning properly. We just don't think he's a safe pick. We're happy we went with Shecky Gruberman instead. Well, of course Rudy wasn't available where we were picking, but you know what I mean. Hey you're not going to put my name by this, right? Because I don't want people to laugh at me. Nobody ever understands true genius. Tip from me to you: get your Gruberman jerseys before they get all trendy and sell out. Shecky's da bomb.
So there you go folks. That was the best info we could dig up. It seems like there might be reason for some cautious optimism, though I'm sure Blazer fans will keep it muted as they always do. What is it about us that makes us so chronically underestimate the guys we haven't seen yet?
Anyway...now better informed and wiser, please feel free to return to your sober, placid pre-season speculation.
P.S. Thanks to Idog1976 for putting us in touch with many of these sources. His foreign connections are truly amazing.