(Originally posted at VinteUm)
With Marcelinho Huertas resting to participate in the FIBA Americas instead and Raulzinho being vetoed by the Utah Jazz, Rafa Luz ran point for the Brazilian national team in the Pan American Games and led the squad to five wins and a gold medal.
Luz is not a particularly great player but after a solid season in Spain, he ought to have gained extra credit with Ruben Magnano’s staff thanks last week’s sure handed performance in Toronto and might have established himself as the second most reliable option at the position behind Huertas.
Luz struggles to get into the lane against a set defense, lacking the burst of quickness to turn the corner when the opponent strings him out sideways or create separation on straight line drives. He is also not the sort of dynamic ball-handler who can dribble side-to-side and stress the opponent into hesitation, unable to get to the basket or draw free throws with frequency.
Luz is an excellent ball mover who keeps the offense moving, though, often looking to pass ahead in transition and make the extra pass quickly around the perimeter. Though his dribble penetration isn’t much of anything, he creates for others by anticipating rotations and timing his passes extremely well – assisting on 31.7% of Obradoiro’s scores when he was on the floor last season and recording 17 assists in five appearances in the Pan American Games, according to RealGM.
There is a lot of risk involved for players who are aggressive anticipating rotations and Luz was a turnover machine. He lost the ball on 28.7% of Obradoiro’s possessions when he was on the floor last season.
Luz took most of his shots from three-point range last week. He is not aggressive attempting pull-ups and also hasn’t shown the ability to shoot sprinting around side screens but converts enough open shots to stay a threat who the opponent must account for when he’s off the ball.
He hit four-of-11 three-point shots in the Pan American Games and 35.5% of his 62 such attempts in the Spanish league last season, a substantial improvement from converting just 27% of his 196 three-point shots the previous three seasons.
Luz is a so-so defender. He has pretty good size (six-foot-one, 207-pound frame), gets on his stance and plays with effort, almost always pressing the opponent full court, but doesn’t have enough athleticism to be an impact player on that end. Luz doesn’t have a lot of length to contest outside shots effectively or shut down passing lanes.
He’s able to slide over screens reasonably well but lacks the burst of quickness to recover into his man well enough to limit help from the big man when the opponent turns the corner and attacks the lane. Quicker guards like Juan Jose Barea and Jose Acosta often managed to erase Luz from the play and attack Augusto Lima and Rafael Hettsheimeir in a position of advantage.
Editor’s Note: 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