After earning Euroleague MVP honors in 2013-2014, Sergio Rodriguez regressed some in 2014-2015. He dealt with some nagging injuries that made him lose some time midseason but is also starting show significant signs of decline, noticeable in his inability to play even passable defense at this point. Yet, Rodriguez remains one of the very best shot creators in the continent thanks to his remarkable court vision and passing instincts, ranking second in the Euroleague and third in the Spanish league in pure point ratio.
Rodriguez is still capable of turning the corner on the pick-and-roll and that ability to dribble into the lane keeps his value very high. He will probably always have that vision of seeing a play develop one-step ahead than the opponent but it’s the fact that he remains a decent enough scoring threat off the bounce that opens up the floor around him.
Rodriguez averaged almost three shots per 36 minutes at the rim in the Euroleague and finished them at a 59.5% clip, while also converting 42.5% of his 87 mid-range shots. He doesn’t attack the rim with power but puts the defense under a good deal of stress with his dribble penetration, which permits him to take advantage of the rotations he forces.
Rodriguez is still quick enough to create separation going side-to-side, drawing help, and then exhibits great timing hitting weak-side shooters as they rotate to open spots and big men diving down the lane. He ranked second in the Spanish league and third in the Euroleague in assist rate, combining to assist on 38.5% of Real Madrid’s scores in his 1,558 total minutes on the floor.
Rodriguez averaged only 22 minutes per game last season and in that context, his 1.7 turnovers per appearance represented a very low cost of doing business with all the shot creation he brought to the table.
Since returning to Real Madrid these last four seasons, Rodriguez has developed into an exceptional shooter. It is of tremendous value that this caliber of shot creator can remain an asset to the offense even when he is off the ball. It has provided Pablo Laso the flexibility to run a very diverse offense – one that led the Euroleague and the Spanish league in scoring per possession, averaging 120 and 117.8 points per 100 trips, respectively.
Rodriguez hit his 251 three-point shots at a 39.4% clip last season. Across the past four seasons, he converted 39.7% of his 948 such shots.
The biggest gap in Rodriguez’s game is his defense, and it’s the reason why he doesn’t log more than 22 minutes per game and is often subbed out late in games. He doesn’t play with a lot of intensity, failing to provide any significant help on the boards and playing the passing lanes.
However, most of his shortcomings are due to physical limitation. Rodriguez does not have quickness to stay in front in isolation and slide around screens to recover in time. He does not have a particularly long wingspan to contest shots effectively. Moreover, he does not have strength in his 176-pound frame to contain dribble penetration through contact.
As great an asset he is on offense, it could be argue Rodriguez is almost equally as bad a liability on defense. Real Madrid allowed 109 points per 100 possessions with him on the floor.
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.