The guy had one good quarter, and it was already a couple of days ago. But consider what Kerry Eggers writes:
In the second quarter, the 20-year-old Spanish point guard was the best player on the floor, collecting 13 points on 6-of-8 shooting to go with six assists. The brilliant 12-minute burst turned a 12-point deficit into a seven-point halftime lead.
Throughout the game, the 6-3, 170-pound Rodriguez created open shots for himself and teammates. He hit 11 of 14 from the field and collected four rebounds and three steals in an All-Star-like 30-minute performance that was duly noted by the opposition.
“He played great,” said Denver superstar Allen Iverson, who scored a game-high 32 points. “If you can judge him off of tonight’s game, I mean, wow. It’s a long, grueling season, but if he stays with it, the sky’s the limit for him. This one will do a lot for his confidence. It’s a game that can make him feel good about himself and know that he can play and be successful in this league.”
George Karl knew very little about Rodriguez going into the game. The Denver coach knows more now.
“He was a dominating player,” Karl says. “He controlled their offense and our defense in the second quarter. He looks like he’s going to be a player.
“We wanted him to go to the rim more than shoot a jump shot, but he’s clever. He finds guys open. A big part of NBA basketball is the pick-and-roll, and he seems to have a knack for it already, which for a young player is unusual.”
Ex-Blazer Steve Blake was busy having the biggest night of his career, going for a career-high 25 points against his old team in a first start for his new club. But he also took notice of the guy wearing No. 11 for the home team.
“I was impressed with his court vision,” Blake said. “He obviously understands the game, and he was knocking down shots, which made it easier for him to find open teammates. If he can consistently do that, he’ll be a very good player in this league.”
I just watched every Rodriguez offensive possession (make, miss, or assist) on Synergy Sports. What it made clear is that if you want to run an up tempo, Phoenix-style offense, Rodriguez can be your point guard. Eggers points out that Rodriguez already trails only Steve Nash league-wide in assists per minute. And like Nash, in the half-court Sergio Rodriguez can feast on the pick and roll. (In this game he was running it with Jamaal "why get me open?" Magloire and Raef "I used to like to shoot" LaFrentz. I wonder why they don't have him pick and roll with LaMarcus Aldridge or Zach Randolph once in a while? He can get them 15-footers all night, and they can hit them.)
Of course, Zach Randolph is about the last player you'd want to use on your fast-breaking team, and it's telling that he had by far his worst game of the season with Rodriguez running the show for the injured Jarrett Jack.
Nate McMillan wants Rodriguez to play better defense to earn minutes, which is fair enough. You can treat rookies like that. But soon enough, like, say, a year from now, Sergio Rodriguez and LaMarcus Aldridge are going to have to be out there, learning from their flaws.
But when it is Sergio Rodriguez's time to get some burn with the regulars, I'm certain that shooters like Martell Webster and Juan Dixon will blossom (much like Raja Bell, Quentin Richardson, Leandro Barbosa etc.) as will mobile big men like Alrdridge.