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Sergio Rodriguez’s signature move, the alley-oop pass

16/05/2020
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This article was originally published by www.euroleague.net

Sergio Rodriguez will go down as one of the best playmakers in Turkish Airlines EuroLeague history. The 2014-15 EuroLeague MVP is the only Spanish player to ever win the continental crown with two different teams; he did so with Real Madrid in 2015 and CSKA Moscow in 2018. Since he made his EuroLeague debut as a teenager with Adecco Estudiantes Madrid in 2004, Rodriguez has always tried to please fans with his flashy playing style. He is a reliable shooter, but what made Rodriguez famous around the world is his ability to find open teammates in spectacular fashion. Rodriguez continues to do that now with AX Armani Exchange Milan as he runs an effective offense while shocking crowds with his no-look passes and, of course, alley-oop lobs.

Throughout the years, Rodriguez has perfected the alley-oop art, finding new, surprising ways to execute this play. In order to do so, of course, he needs big, strong pick-and-roll players and high-flying small forwards coming off the weak side. His most iconic alley-oop partner has been Rudy Fernandez; they played together at Real, Portland of the NBA and on the Spanish national team and can perform an alley-oop without looking at each other. Most recently, Rodriguez has found a new alley-oop partner in Kaleb Tarczewski. He can feed alley-oop dunks to the center from different angles, even from the top of the key, taking advantage of Tarczewski’s size, timing and jumping skills. Attracting the help defender to him and thus generating space for his teammate to get the ball and dunk is the key. That evolution shows that Rodriguez doesn’t simply let it fly for others to catch it and dunk. There is a lot of research behind what he does to surprise defenses.

Dishing crowd-pleasing assists is not linked to picking up a lot of turnovers. In fact, Rodriguez has dished 2.33 assists per turnovers for his career and only two players with more than 1,000 assists in EuroLeague history – Sergio Llull and Nick Calathes – have done better. He ranks fourth all-time with 1,244 assists and is 12 away from passing Dimitris Diamantidis for third place. Of course, things would be more difficult for Rodriguez if he wasn’t such a great scorer. Defenses have to choose between letting him shoot or switching the defense on him, which is when Rodriguez finds space for his teammates. No other player with at least 1,000 attempts has a better three-point shooting percentage (40.2%) and Rodriguez is also deadly from the foul line – a career 85.7% free throw shooter. By being creative, reading defenses like few others and getting teammates involved in so many ways, Rodriguez has become an unquestionable EuroLeague superstar.