2010-11 Portland Trail Blazers Roster Rundown: Rudy Fernandez

Another season trying to break through, another no-go for Rudy. Read about it below.

On our march through the Trail Blazers roster it's time to stop and dally with Rudy Fernandez.  The silky Spaniard just completed his third tour of duty with the Blazers.  How did he fare?  The statistical look:

 

10-11

09-10

Change

Games

78

62

+16

Minutes

1821

1441

+380

MPG

23.3

23.2

+0.1

FG%

37.0%

37.8%

-0.8%

3PT%

32.1%

36.8%

-4.7%

FT%

86.3%

86.7%

-0.4%`

FGA/36

11.4

10.6

+0.8

3PTA/36

7.1

6.6

+0.5

FTA/36

2.9

2.4

+0.5

TRB/36

3.4

4.1

-0.7

AST/36

3.8

3.2

+0.6

STL/36

1.7

1.5

+0.2

TO/36

1.7

1.8

-0.1

USG%

18.7%

17.7%

+1.0%

ORTG

108

108

---

DRTG

108

107

+1

PER

13.4

13.1

+0.3

TShooting%

52.2%

54.0%

-1.8%

NETPTS/100*

-0.1

-6.4

+6.3

PPG

8.6

8.1

+0.5

PPG/36

13.2

12.6

+0.6

Click through for a deeper look at the numbers, some analysis around the edges, and open speculation about Rudy's future with the club.

For the most part Rudy's numbers fall in the "not too bad" category.   Mostly injury-free, he played in more games and logged more overall minutes than last year.  He got up a few more shots, produced slightly more points per minute, had a nice little jump in assists.  The bird poop on the picnic table is the plummeting three-point percentage.  This guy shot 40% from distance his rookie year.  That was his bankable skill.  He lost 3% off of that average his second season and another 5% this year.  32% is not acceptable for Rudy.  Throw in a horrendous 37% overall shooting percentage and the story gets worse, even if you do figure 2/3 of his shots come from beyond the arc.  It's like playing with a completely de-clawed cat.  It might do some cute things but it's not going to win the fight.  If you shoot 37% and lose your three-point shot in the bargain you'd better defend like Thabo Sefolosha.  Rudy doesn't.  His defense is middling at best.  His passing is occasionally beautiful but not consistently so.  His rebounding is OK.  In fact outside of that three-point shot there's nothing about Rudy's game that you can point to and say, "THIS is definitely why he's an NBA player."

That said, Rudy did a better job of fitting in on both ends of the court this year.  He wasn't out of place on defense nearly as much and even provided some spark through steals and fourth-quarter energy.  Some of his passes are automatic highlight reel material and he has a nose for getting teammates the ball at the rim.  He was actually able to get to the rim with more consistency this year.  The stats say his close attempts were up slightly as a percentage of the whole and his effective field goal percentage on those close shots rose significantly.  To the eye, though, he still has major trouble finishing at the rim.  You hold your breath rather than pump your fist when Fernandez attempts a layup.  More success off the dribble allowed him close attempts and passes both and this would be the biggest area he needs to work on.

The ray of hope stat for Fernandez is the Net Points Per 100 Possessions which rose to even from an abysmal -6.4 last season.  Part of this is attributable to playing with better teammates but he gelled better with those teammates too.  It's not so much that Fernandez revolutionized his game, rather you didn't notice those palm-to-forehead mistakes.  He looked like he knew what he was doing and understood what the folks around him were doing as well.  That's a step forward. 

Is it enough of a step forward?  That's the question.  It's not one the Blazers have to rush to answer.  He's still on a rookie scale contract and will probably be available to the Blazers for a couple years.  But he's definitely the odd man out in the guard rotation going forward and he's not a player the Blazers are going to have qualms moving.  Even at his best this year Rudy didn't show enough to make you consider bumping a Wesley Matthews and Brandon Roy's contract and status will make him all but "unbumpable".  But it's kind of silly to think about bumping anyone when at this point the correct assessment of your game is "pretty, but slightly below average".

Sometimes a guy makes sparks with a girl instantly.  He knows it, she knows it, everyone knows it.  But then for whatever reason the guy doesn't ask the girl out right away.  He doesn't make the leap, close the deal.  Time passes and the sparks (or at least their memory) are still there but they're accompanied by question marks now.  "Why isn't he asking me?  Does he really like me?  Do I really like him that way?  Is he just a friend?  What's going on?  I'm confused." Maybe the relationship could still start if he'd get on the ball.  But still no move.  After enough time passes it's, "Dude, whatever."  Even if he did ask her out, show some overt signs of interest, she's not into it anymore.   She begins to suspect that there's no real attraction there.  That was so two years ago.  She's moving on.  If he made an advance now she'd be more mad about him waiting this long than happy that he went for it.  Some catastrophic change would have to occur to reboot the sparkle phase and even then it'd be starting completely new and with suspicion.

It kind of feels like that's where Rudy and the Blazers--particularly Blazer fans--are today.  It was love at first sight and we absolutely would have gone for him in a heartbeat.  But it's been three years now and he's still not stepping forward.  There are other guys in our lives now.  He's cute.  Maybe we'll always wonder "what if".  But unless we get trapped in an elevator together and he saves us singlehandedly from a roaring inferno by rappelling us down to the ground floor and then plants a smoldering kiss full on our lips, this probably isn't going to work.

Season Grade:  C+  (The plus is for the fitting in part.)

Stock Market Recommendation:  Sell (At this point your money is probably better invested elsewhere.)

--Dave (blazersub@yahoo.com)

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