After spending the last six years overseas with Real Madrid, veteran point guard Sergio Rodriguez made his long-awaited return to the NBA this summer with the Philadelphia 76ers. In a surprising free agency move, the Sixers signed the 30-year-old point guard to a one-year, $8 million deal.
Initially, the signing had many fans puzzled because they did not know what to expect from Rodriguez, who last played in the NBA in the 2009-10 season. But fast forward to the early portion of the 2016 regular season, and fans are not puzzled anymore as the signing has paid huge dividends.
Before, we talk about how the Rodriguez’s signing has paid off. Let’s take a look back at his final season with Real Madrid.
Last season with Real Madrid, Rodriguez averaged 10.8 points, 5.8 assists, and 2.0 assists in a career-high 23.9 minutes per game. He also shot 45.9 percent from the field and 37.7 percent from three-point range. While those numbers may look pedestrian to some, for Real Madrid, it was an excellent sight to see.
In his final season with Real Madrid, Rodriguez was named to the All-Spanish ACB team for the third time in his career. Other players, who were on the All-Spanish ACB teams with Rodriguez over the years, were Rudy Fernandez, Nikola Mirotic, and Andres Nocioni.
Not to mention, Rodriguez was named the Euroleague MVP during the 2013-14 season. During that season, Rodriguez averaged a career-high 12.7 points, to go with 5.5 assists, and 1.9 assists in 22.8 minutes per game. He also had a career-year shooting the ball as he shot 47.9 percent from the field and 42.0 percent from three-point range.
With this ability to dish out the ball and also score, it is a no-brainer why Sixers general manager Bryan Colangelo was interested in the point guard. If you ever get the chance to watch Rodriguez’s Real Madrid games, you will see that he is a floor general with a little flash, and is a complete basketball player. This is a far cry, from when he was drafted in 2007 by the Phoenix Suns with the 27th overall pick, before being traded on draft night to the Portland Trailblazers.
Nevertheless, Rodriguez’s game now has translated much better to the NBA, and it is helping out the Sixers tremendously as they now have a serviceable point guard.
This season, Rodriguez is averaging 7.7 points, 6.8 assists, and 3.1 rebounds in 27.0 minutes per game. He is also shooting 37.7 percent from the field and 30.3 from three-point range. Even though the stats may not look appealing, you have to factor in that this is the most minutes Rodriguez has played in the NBA or overseas.
Despite the low shooting statistics, he has a good grasp of Brett Brown’s offense and is doing a great job, holding down the starting point guard spot until Jerryd Bayless can play starter’s minutes.
If you have watched Rodriguez play this season, you have noticed that he stays under control in transition, can knock down a mid-range jump shot, and is always looking for his teammates. Just ask Nik Stauskas, who is having a solid season this year and has benefited from playing with Rodriguez.
This season, El Chacho has also shown that he is a big man’s best friend, running the pick and roll and pick and pop with the Sixers’ bigs with ease.
Without question, Rodriguez has been an improvement over Ish Smith and the rookie year version of T.J. McConnell, but what will his role be when Ben Simmons come back?
It has already been said that when Simmons come back, he will become the Sixers’ primary ball handler, which is the correct move to make. However, with Simmons on the floor playing next to Joel Embiid, Gerald Henderson Jr., Robert Covington, and Bayless. It moves Rodriguez to the bench, which will make the Sixers’ second unit stronger.
Could you imagine a bench lineup of: Jahlil Okafor, Ersan Ilyasova, Dario Saric, Nik Stauskas, and Rodriguez? That isn’t bad at all and it gives Brown a floor general to direct traffic.
Thus far, Rodriguez has played fantastic basketball and exceeded many people’s expectations. It should be exciting to see what he does the rest of the season as he has finally figured out his role in the NBA.