Sergio Rodriguez Looked Like A Starting Point Guard
Despite an underwhelming performance from the Spanish National Team as a whole, Sergio Rodriguez was able to diminish a good bit of doubt surrounding whether or not he could function as the Philadelphia 76ers’ starting point guard.
While the main storyline surrounding Sunday’s Olympic matchup that sheer magnitude of the upset Bojan Bogdanovic and the Croatian National Team pulled off against Spain, the Philadelphia 76ers and their respective fans had an entirely different mindset both heading into and during the match.
Philly fans were closely analyzing the performances of some of their most coveted offseason additions in Dario Saric of Croatia and Sergio Rodriguez of Spain, and it was Rodriguez’s that ended the game with a much more optimistic outlook.
While his stat line doesn’t seem overly impressive at first glance, Rodriguez did a number of little things right when orchestrating the offense on the court. He led the team in assists with 7 in total, and often was outperforming other NBA talent, such as Ricky Rubio, on his own roster for a good portion of the game.
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What Rodriguez lacked in shooting — going just 3-11 from the field for 10 points — he made up for with incredibly smart basketball alongside a noticeable knack for finding his way through the defense. He has a quick first step that far exceeds that of most players at the 30-years-old mark, and has the court vision and general feel for the game needed to excel at almost any level of play.
More consistent shooting would have been a massive positive considering his role alongside Ben Simmons in the rotation, but his ability to attack the defense coming off of screens and keep the opposition on it’s heels for a good portion of the game is certainly a good thing. He fit well within the scheme of Spain’s offense, and was able to find his spots on the floor in a manner that showcased both craftiness with the ball and precision.
Rodriguez spent a much larger period of time on the ball than I expected, and it (almost) paid off for a Spanish team that shouldn’t have let Croatia remain in the ball game to begin with. Pau Gasol functioned well alongside Sergio in the pick-and-roll, a scenario we could see transferred alongside the likes of Ben Simmons and Nerlens Noel in the future.
He has calmed his game down significantly during his tenure with Real Madrid from the looks of it, and is playing with a tangible level of poise and veteran savvy that he simply didn’t have in his first run with the NBA. Rather than diluting his court vision with ill-advised decisions and a general lack of confidence, he patrols the court on both ends with the aptitude to shift pace at any given time and run the offense at almost any speed without rushing passes or hiking up bad shots.
In my stat prediction piece, I put El Chacho’s numbers somewhere in the ball park of 9 points and 5 assists per night. While that doesn’t seem like anything incredibly impressive, especially from the standpoint of starting point guards, it revolves more around how he plays the game rather than the inevitable statistical production he’ll attain.
Rodriguez showed that he’s able to run the show with other NBA talent on the floor, and do so while making his teammates around him better in the process. He has a honed in his nerves and become much more precise as a player during his time in Spain, and that really showed in their Rio opener.
Despite it being in a loss, he was one of Spain’s most effective players on the court, and was able to make the big plays when called upon while still providing a steady hand to guide the offense throughout. How he’ll play the rest of the tournament is yet to be seen and his role alongside Simmons and company will be vastly different in some areas, but his base skill set is present and he seems fit to provide the veteran stopgap the Sixers have been lacking for so long at the one spot.