Marcelinho Huertas is one of the very best shot creators in the globe. A pick-and-roll magician, the Brazilian point-guard is an offensive juggernaut thanks to the combination of his reliable one-legged runner and passing skills, either lobbing to the big diving to the basket or hitting the spot-up shooter in the perimeter. He hit 50% of his 66 two-point jump-shots in 566 Euroleague minutes and 71 of his 96 assists led to scores at the rim or from three-point range. Huertas also ranked second in the Spanish league in pure point ratio among point guards, behind only Sergio Rodriguez.
Huertas has above average speed for the European game turning the corner to get into the lane, forcing the big to make a decision on either helping on him or staying with his man to take away the lob, and he is nothing short of remarkable adjusting his decision making in the air. He has a tight handle, nifty ball skills and a 200-pound frame (distributed on six-foot-three of height) that has proven resilient to absorb contact and maintain his balance as he penetrates. Huertas finished extremely well last season, hitting 75% of his 40 shots at the rim in 566 Euroleague minutes and having only 11 of his 192 two-point attempts blocked in 983 Spanish league minutes. He doesn’t attack the basket as often as he should, though, and that is also reflected on him averaging fewer than two free throws per game.
Huertas is mostly a willing a shooter, taking 203 three-point attempts in 1,668 total minutes last season, which is important for pass-first point guards to keep forcing the defense react to them and not let the offense get stale, though there are stretches where he will overreact to a couple consecutive misses and opt out of open looks to try creating something for someone else off the dribble, as that is his primary instinct. Huertas is a good enough set shooter, especially from the corner, to more often than not punish the defense if it leaves him open when he is off the ball, which happens more than it should because Barcelona sometimes relies too heavily on running Juan Carlos Navarro and Brad Oleson around pindown screens. He is also capable of hitting the three-pointer off the bounce to keep opponents honest when they start consistently going way under the high screen but is very below average on that shot.
He has proven himself just as creative a passer in transition as he is off the pick-and-roll in his previous stops at Joventut Badalona, Saski Baskonia Vitoria and with the Brazilian national team but doesn’t get to showcase those skills much with Barcelona, rarely getting the chance to push the pace as he is mostly surrounded by older players and players who don’t fit a fastbreak-oriented style of play.
Huertas is a quite bad defender and that often cost him minutes to backup Victor Sada, a far inferior offensive player but a menace on-ball defender fighting screens and containing dribble penetration due to his incredible effort and elite athleticism for the European game. Barcelona led the Spanish league in defensive efficiency, allowing just 101.3 points per 100 possessions but leaked 105.4 with Huertas on the court. The difference was even more significant in the Euroleague, where Barça allowed 9.8 points per 100 possessions fewer with him on the bench. Huertas does not fight picks, simply crashing into them without much resistance.
That’s not to say he doesn’t put effort into that end of the court. He does get into his stance consistently and is quite hyperactive with his feet but that doesn’t help him much as his quickness simply does not translate into lateral mobility on defense and going around him isn’t much of a challenge for the average guard at the highest level of the European game. So Huertas is also frequently burned by smaller attacking guards off the bounce and exposes his big men. He is even below average contributing on the glass, as he ranked outside the top 25 among point guards in defensive rebounding rate in the Spanish league.
Rafael Uehara is the managing editor of ‘Basketball Scouting’. More of his work can be found here or at Upside & Motor, where he is a regular contributor. He can be followed on twitter as @rafael_uehara.