Sergio Rodriguez was the best offensive player in all of Europe last season, leading the Euroleague in shot creation (defined by Simon Jatsch as unassisted field goals ‘plus’ assists) and the Spanish league in pure point ratio. ‘Chacho’ was an unstoppable force, scoring from all areas with tremendous efficiency and manufacturing easy scores for teammates at a really high rate. As a result, he was named the most valuable player in the Euroleague. Real Madrid averaged 120 points per 100 possessions in his 1,776 total minutes in both leagues.
He is a great all around playmaker but excels the most in the pick-and-roll. Rodriguez has great speed turning the corner and puts constant pressure on the defense by getting to the middle of the lane. He’s adequate but not particularly great around the basket. Rodriguez does not play above the rim, with none of his 431 points in the Spanish league coming off dunks, but has decent touch to finish at basket level, finishing his 38 attempts at the rim in 664 Euroleague minutes at a 63.2% clip and having only four of his 186 two-point shots in the Spanish league blocked. He does not possess strength to finish through contact due to his six-foot-three, 176-pound frame and only averaged a little more than two free throws per game in 78 appearances, though he hit them at an 88.2% clip.
Rodriguez is a menace of a passer, though. He is very savvy changing directions and has great timing hitting weak-side shooters as they rotate to the open spot, assisting on 62 of his teammates’ 179 three-pointers in the Euroleague. He is a tremendous lob thrower, not just off the ball screen but also in transition. A third of his assists in the Euroleague were to scores at the rim. Rodriguez is a phenomenal open court player, fast sprinting down the court and always looking to pass ahead. He is also very attentive to try taking advantage of the defense when it manages to stop the fast-break but is not yet set. Several of his assists came throwing the alley oop to Marcus Slaughter in such situations. He led both leagues in assist rate.
What makes him such a difficult player to defend off the pick-and-roll is that he balances his dribble penetration and court vision with killer mid-range shooting. Rodriguez has a very quick trigger pulling up in rhythm, hitting 48% of his 102 two-point jump-shots in the Euroleague. Every player who is that good shooting off the bounce is supposed to become a quality spot-up gunner as well and Rodriguez reached the high point of his career last season, hitting 42% of his 331 three-point attempts. His 18.3% turnover rate was mostly the cost of doing business and it was actually the lowest in his three years with Real Madrid, despite having played the most minutes and posting the highest usage rate during this stretch.
Despite being a shot creation juggernaut, Rodriguez was not the best player in the continent. His defense was very poor and at times cost him minutes late in games. He doesn’t get in his stance and gets easily beaten in isolation. Part of it is athletic limitation; Rodriguez’s speed does not translate into lateral quickness against smaller players and he doesn’t possess the physical strength to contain dribble penetration through contact against bigger players. But his effort was mostly not there either. He drew a single charge in 664 Euroleague minutes. His navigation through screens was quite bad, as he died on picks and sold out his big men. Rodriguez contributed some jumping passing lanes and on the glass, posting above average steal rates and defensive rebounding rates, but those couldn’t make up for his poor individual defense and Real Madrid hemorrhaged points with him on the floor. It allowed 105.4 points per 100 possessions with him in the lineup and 94.7 when he hit the bench in the Euroleague, 102.8 with him and 95.6 without him 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.