Marcelinho Huertas had a great first couple of months to the season but then fell off a cliff, either due to injury or general regression in athleticism due to age. He lost a lot of minutes to Tomas Satoransky and was a non-impact player towards the end of the season.
PICK-AND-ROLL SHOT CREATION
Huertas is a pick-and-roll menace, one of the very best shot creators in the globe off a high ball-screen. But he struggled to turn the corner and attack the lane with speed last season.
Huertas was never one those guards that got to the rim with power but has always been able to put pressure on the defense with his floater, then when they converged to him he was always able to adjust his decision making in the air and find a big running free to the rim or an open shooter.
As he struggled to create any sort of separation, Huertas stopped pulling up for those runners enough times for the defense to feel threatened by his scoring ability. According to gigabasket.org, Huertas shot 12-for-34 (35%) from mid-range in his last 14 Euroleague appearances, after shooting 28-for-63 (44%) on such shots in his first 14 Euroleague appearances last season.
Huertas has such incredible vision and command of how an offense should be run, though, that his assist rate did not decline, despite the fact defenses probably didn’t need to rotate as much to contain his dribble penetration. According to RealGM, Huertas assisted on a third of Barcelona’s scores in his 1,584 total minutes on the floor last season.
It can’t be ignored he was also a turnover machine, though, limiting how much of a positive his passing was. Giveaways are often the cost of doing business with such prolific shot creators for others, who often take chances trying to anticipate passing lanes, but Huertas’ 20.1% turnover rate was sky-high in the context of his 21.2% usage-rate.
Either due to injury or age, Huertas was very limited moving around the floor last season. He didn’t have a lot of side-to-side quickness before, so losing that burst to turn the corner completely killed his ability to get to the basket.
Huertas took just 30 shots at the rim in 28 Euroleague appearances and missed more than half of those, while also averaging just 1.8 free throws per 36 minutes. He shot 75% on 40 attempts at the rim against that same level of competition the season before.
On the other end, Huertas remains a poor pick-and-roll defender, unable to navigate over screens with enough quickness to limit the need for help. He also lacks the wingspan to contest shots effectively and shut down passing lanes. According to gigabasket.org, Barcelona allowed 106.3 points per 100 possessions with him on the floor in the Euroleague, and just 95.3 with Satoransky defending the point of the attack instead.
Huertas continues to be only a capable open-shot shooter at best. He hit 35.5% of his 197 three-point shots last season, keeping his four-season average at a respectable 36.5% on 850 such shots. While decent enough not to be a significant minus to their spacing over the course of the season, Huertas remains the sort of shooter opponents play off of in high leverage situations. Olympiacos did it yet again in the Euroleague quarterfinals, with Evangelos Mantzaris not guarding Huertas when he stood still on the weak-side. He logged just 15.5 minutes per game in that series and just 11 minutes in game four.
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