Sergio Rodriguez NBA Draft Scouting Report
May 24, 2006, 03:48 pm
Sergio Rodríguez is an off-the-charts basketball talent; one of just a few players capable of surprising even the most knowledgeable minds in the game with his moves. A very creative playmaker, he has a superb ability to generate offense, whether for himself or for his teammates, based on an outstanding skill set.
Not a superb athlete, nor a physical freak, Sergio fills the bill for the basic tools required to carry his game to the next level. At 6-3, he has good size to handle the position while showing a nice enough frame for a point guard. Even if theres still significant work to do, his body development in the past few years has been noticeable, particularly during the previous season. He wont blow anybody with his athleticism, but hes a fairly quick guy and he lets his skills do the rest.
As you can see, there is nothing particularly special regarding his physical profile; what really sets him apart from virtually every other youngster is his skill set. To start with, Sergio is a terrific ball-handler. More in the line to what we usually see in American playmakers, he dominates the ball. High dribble, low dribble, crossover, behind-the-back dribble, hes mastered every single variant at a young age with both hands. But hes not an exhibitionist; its only a matter of gaining advantages through this skill. Hes really quick driving the ball, and creative in order to get to where he wants.
With these credentials, its very hard to stop him whenever to decides to step into the lane. Hes a great one-on-one player. Even if hes not that explosive, he has a nice first step, terrific footwork, and the ability to easily change gears. Predictable is not a word in Sergios dictionary, although its true that he tends to go right looking the way for the basket. One of his patented moves is, once in motion, faking going right and then crossing the ball and slashing the other way right by his defender, a move that is very difficult to contest. Sergio also shows nice ability finishing his slashing moves. Although he might have his shot blocked from time to time, particularly when hes trying to drive past too many rivals, he usually finds the way to leave the layup, using the glass if necessary. He also has an effective short off-the-dribble jumpshot that he can release even over players that are significantly taller than him.
Perhaps the most spectacular among his skills, Sergio is a consummate passer. Enjoying outstanding court vision, its in those slashing situations where he probably shines the most. Whenever he forces a defensive rotation, he has the ability to find the open man, intelligently seeing the floor and utilizing the opposite side of the floor for a quick reverse to get the defense off-balance. Hes automatic in pick and roll plays, showing perfect timing to distribute the ball, or finishing himself if the defenders opt not to switch. Its needless to say how helpful this will be in the NBA, where theres more emphasis on individual defenses rather than team defenses. When Sergio is on the court, its not rare to see a wing cutting by the baseline while the pick and roll takes all the attention, and to be perfectly fed by Rodríguez.
Sergio is not only a drive and dish player; he can distribute from the perimeter, rewarding strong off the ball movement, not only for the players going outside looking for an open look from the three-point line, but also being able to deliver difficult entry passes on sharp cuts to the basket. Like weve said, hes not an exhibitionist, and you wont see him performing a fancy pass just for the sake of doing it. He does like to give the ball up with a no-look pass, but on one hand it helps to create confusion for the defense, and on the other, for him its as easy and natural as breathing. He can use both hands or just one in the delivery (usually the right), while he elegantly takes advantage of the bounce pass when he finds the opportunity. Behind-the-back passes or other things of that nature is not the most common thing to see him do; only when the situation requires it. Hes perhaps even a better passer in transition. He never gives up the chance of a full-court pass if it will create an advantage for his team. If he takes the ball up-court on a fastbreak, he shows excellent decision making looking for the best option, whether feeding the running wings, the trailer coming behind him or finishing himself.
Despite his tremendous passing ability, Sergio is not necessarily a pure pass-first point guard, even if his shooting struggles this season have sometimes driven him that way. He likes to score as much as the next guy. Besides his ability to score while slashing to the basket, hes not a bad off the dribble shooter at all, even with International three-point range. He shows nice confidence and quick mechanics releasing his jumpers, and can get very hot at times from the perimeter, although he hasnt done it regularly this season. He also shows a remarkable ability shooting in front of bigger rivals near the basket, managing to stay in the air and release the ball over them.
Sergio is a player that loves the up-tempo pace. He rarely wastes a chance to score two quick and easy points. While this tendency might result (indeed, frequently results) in excessively rushing, hes learning to control the rhythm of the game better. Still running whenever he thinks it can benefit his team, hes now more aware of when the team needs to take a break, run down the shot-clock and involve other players in major creating roles. Hes a player who tends to absorb a huge chunk of the offensive game, a troubling issue for a youngster playing pros; but hes now more comfortable sharing the ball, and more confident making decisions. He keeps taking risks, but shows better timing doing it.
Sergio might sometimes produce the wrong impression, the feeling that hes out of control, and that hes not that smart on the court. But hes a highly intelligent player who only needs to find confidence and his rhythm playing the game in order to be effective. Hes absolutely nuts about basketball, which is easy to tell watching him play. Indeed hes a guy who loves big games, the decisive moments, and who never hides when the ball burns for other players in clutch situations. Hes a winner who already has an impressive resume for a player so young, having enjoyed starting status in the Euroleague and ACB League with Adecco Estudiantes, being called up to the Spanish National Team, or earning MVP honors in the European Junior Championships while leading Spain to the gold. Thats valuable experience at the most demanding settings of international basketball.
At this point, were just starting to scratch the surface on what Sergio can become as a player. He has still a lot of potential left to be fulfilled, showing flaws that he should be able to fix as he matures and keeps working on his game.
(April 2004, Juan Antonio Hinojo)
He's a point guard of, officially, 6 feet 3 inches tall, although he might actually be an inch shorter. He played for 3 years in the Federación Siglo XXI center; an academy in the mold of the French ones where Tony Parker was brought up. This year he signed with Estudiantes, and he doesn't play with the junior team, where he should be playing according to his age, although he will be playing in the Spanish Junior Championships. He also plays in the EBA team. The EBA is a sort of a fourth division league in Spain, where veteran and young players play. The level is not too good, but for a kid still 18 years old is not bad. Gasol and many other Spanish prospects played there before joining the ACB (Spanish first division) teams. On this EBA team he plays along with other Spanish prospects such as Jan Martín, Josep Mestres and Adrián García.
He's an absolutely spectacular player to watch. He has many of the characteristics of Raul López, handles the ball better than anybody in the ACB, with both hands as well, and he's very flexible and agile. His one advantage over Raul López, who I followed quite a bit when he was Sergio's age: he's much more of a scorer. Just so you have some context, as a Junior player Raul was actually considered a better player than Tony Parker, and along with Juan Carlos Navarro led the Spanish Junior Team to the gold medal in the World Championships and the European Championships. I've read in some places about comparisons being made with Navarro, to me he only resembles him in his fearlessness and pentration ability. Like Navarro he has the willingness to practically create his own shot going 1 on 5. But other then that his technical level is superior to Navarro's, especially his handles and passing ability. He's a pure point: he gets a lot of assists and controls the team around him. Navarro's assists also used to come more from dishing the ball off after or while penetrating, which is not bad at all, he is just not as pure of a point.
Rodríguez has very good shooting mechanics coupled with great quickness, but for whatever reason his shooting percentages are not very high from the perimeter. When he shoots the ball you think he will hit it, simply because of how smooth his form is, but then you see that his percentages are not exactly sharpshooter-esque. Other then that, he's reliable from the mid-range area, and I think he will eventually be a good shooter, like Raul López turned out to be. Physically he's very fast and explosive, like Raul López, but taller and with slightly superior leaping ability.
His physical characteristics, especially his agility, make him an ideal point guard. The combination he possesses of physical tools combined with his unbelievable handles, superior even to Lopez's, along with his enormous repertoire of technical skills to finish in the most difficult of situations, go a long way in confirming that. His penetrations to the basket, ability to change gears in the blink of an eye, and fantastic creativity make a tremendous scorer out of him. His passing game is also on par with the rest of his game: he has good execution and the technical ability to perfect a large array of passes, both from a static position and in transition. I think his court vision is superior to Lopez's (I always use Raul as a comparison to Sergio because of their position on the court and the fact that Lopez is the only Spanish perimeter player in the NBA). Rodríguez is probably the best Spanish passer I've seen at the youth level. I say Spanish because Panchi Barrera, from Uruguay, is the best passer I've seen at this level.