Injuries held Rudy Fernandez to just 39 appearances last season, which is why it was a bit weird that rumors of interest from the Philadelphia 76ers emerged. As he gets into his 30s, Fernandez’s athleticism is in decline and it’s possible his days as a rotation cog at the NBA level are behind him.
But his shot making ability should keep him a Juan Carlos Navarro-type of stalworth at the European level probably throughout his entire career. And with Sergio Rodriguez departing to the United States, we might have better opportunity to see what the exact state of his shot creation is next season.
As he ages, Fernandez is starting to rely even more heavily on the three-point shot, with such attempts accounting for 65% of his shot profile last season. And he remains an impact player on offense because he matches volume with geat efficiency, converting 40.6% of his 175 three-point shots last season – according to RealGM.
Fernandez is not only a threat spotting up on the weak-side but has also proven himself prolific shooting on the move; coming off staggered screens and sprinting to the ball to catch-and-shoot out dribble hand-offs. He’s also a capable shooter pulling up off the bounce, even from three-point range, elevating with great balance.
Fernandez can shake his opponent side-to-side some to get by him but mostly needs the aid of a screen, a live dribble or his man closing out to him off balance to get dribble penetration. At least that was the case as he was not at the peak of his fitness last season. Given he’s a very good athlete, it’s possible he’ll bounce back and look bouncier in a few months.
In those opportunities where he was able to attack from a position of advantage, Fernandez could still turn the corner out of the pick-and-roll and get into the middle of the lane on catch-and-go’s. He’s lost some burst attacking length at the basket, though, and earned just 2.3 foul shots per 36 minutes, after that figure was 4.7 a year ago.
Handling in pick-and-roll, Fernandez’s always been more of a one-speed guy than one navigates ball screens with pace but has always shown flashes of very instinctive passing, assisting on 13.1% of Real Madrid’s scores when he was on the floor last season, though he was more prone of getting the ball stripped in traffic, with his assist-to-tunover ratio dipping to 1.7 after it was at 2.3 the previous two seasons.
The athletic indicators of Fernandez’s defense also declined, as his contributions through steals and blocks became more marginal, though he remained an asset helping finish possessions in the glass.
Individually, Pablo Laso seemed more hesitant to rely on him for the tougher assignments. Playing more as a weak-side defender, Fernandez made good gambles doubling the post but did poorly closing out to his man, often doing so off balance and giving up a path to the middle of the lane.
As he ages, Fernandez might start offering some potential of picking up bigger players on switches. While he is not particularly strong, unable to contain through contact dribble penetration by players his own size, Fernandez has been feisty when he’s found himself switched on a big – working hard to front in the post and then using his length to try preventing the post feed or reach around to try stripping the ball in post defense rather than just accepting getting bullied below the basket.
Editor’s Note: Rafael Uehara is the managing editor of ‘Basketball Scouting’. More of his work can be found here or at Upside & Motor and at RealGM, where he is a regular contributor. He can be followed on twitter as @rafael_uehara