Friday, October 24, 2008

Introducing: Rudy “Da Boy” Fernández

With the 2008-2009 fast approaching, I thought it best to “let the proverbial cat out of the bag” and name my pick for 08’-09’ Rookie of the Year (ROY) – Palma de Mallorca, Balearic Islands native - Rodolfo "Rudy" Fernández Farrés of the Portland Trailblazers.

Fernández’ Beijing Olympics heroics in Gold Medal game as well as his Blazers’ pre-season display of aerial artistry, timely shooting, pinpoint passing, and instinctive defensive skills have certainly gotten my juices following for the upcoming regular and fantasy NBA seasons.

A lot is expected of the man that I have christened as “Da Boy.”

The evolution of a trade

It all started with a 6’7’’ Czech guard named Jiri Welsch.

Not a lot of people remember the former Mattoni League MVP who was drafted by the Philadelphia 76ers (16th overall) in 2002. Welsch never got an opportunity to play for the 76ers during his rookie season as his rights were immediately shipped to the Golden State Warriors. The following season, Welsch was again traded, this time to the Dallas Mavericks and then subsequently dealt to the Boston Celtics along with Chris Mills, Raef LaFrentz and a 04’ lottery-protected selection for Antoine Walker and Tony Delk (It seems like it happened yesterday).

Still with me?

Now this is where our story truly begins as less than two years later, the Celtics moved poor Welsch (this guy never caught a break) to the Cleveland Cavaliers for a future first-round pick in 2007 that eventually became the 24th selection by virtue of the Cavs 2006 team standings.

In 2006, the Phoenix Suns drafted Kentucky point guard Rajon Rondo and then traded him along with “The Braided One” Brian Grant for the aforementioned Cavaliers selection and cash considerations.

The following year, the Suns used the Cavaliers pick, which the got from the Boston trade to draft Rudy Fernández.

In total, it took a series of trades involving four NBA teams over the course of two seasons and another year of continuous discussions and negotiations on the part of the Portland Trailblazers brain trust (General Manager Kevin Pritchard please stand up!) to pry Rudy away from his mother team of eight years—DKV Joventut of the Spanish ACB League.

It took awhile, but Rudy Fernández is finally in the National Basketball Association (NBA).

What it this “Da Boy” business?

The moniker “Da Boy” was something I had come up with. It was inspired by a conversation that Nate McMillan shared with the media during the Fernández’ press conference last September 22, 2008. McMillan recalled the time wherein the USA coaching staff and Kobe Bryant scouted the Spanish National Team game during one of their games in Beijing Olympics.

The 6’5’’ Rudy Fernández stood out in that contest, which prompted the observing Kobe Bryant to turn to McMillan and say, "He's your kid, huh? He's pretty good."

“Kid,” in my mind, equating youth or “Boy.”

While “Da” (pronounced Da-H) instead of “The” serves as homage to his namesake, the late Filipino actor Rudy “Daboy” Fernandez.

The statistics and other immeasurable intangibles

With the exception of the two games that “Da Boy” missed due to the ankle sprain he suffered last October 8, 2008 against the Golden State Warriors, Fernández has been truly impressive.

In the five games that he has played to date, Rudy has certainly lit up the stat sheet by averaging slightly more than 29 minutes, 12 points, 3.4 rebounds, 4 assists, 0.2 blocks, and an amazing 2.6 steals per contest. His shooting percentages (46% field goal and 100% free throw) are not that bad either with half his 10 field goal attempts coming from long distance (35% three point field goal percentage).

Looking at his game this early in the pre-season, Fernández has lived up to the high praises given by fellow Spaniard and current Toronto Raptors starting point guard Jose Manuel Calderon when he said, "I think he's (Fernández) a great player, he can score and he can do a lot of things. He's not just a scorer; he can do a little bit of everything. He's a great player.”

Sean Meagher of added, “while Rudy instantly garners your attention with his "flash-and-dash" style of offensive play, it's how he makes the team better that makes him so important. He creates, not only for himself, but more so for his teammates. He creates open shots for guys either cutting to the basket, trailing or standing in the open corner. He has the rare ability to feel things out before they happen, anticipation. Rudy has the ability to squeeze passes into a tight window most players wouldn't even think about. He's got a constant motor that's always running as long as he is on the court. Many of the tools he plays with, aren't taught. And just think about what he will be able to do when he really learns the NBA game and with a year or two of NBA coaching.”

Nice huh?

On my end, if there was any area that Rudy may need to work on, it would be his turnovers (averaging 3 miscues per game in the pre-season) as well as knowing when to put the reigns on his cerebral yet somewhat reckless (yet entertaining) game which has already left him open to injury this early in the season (e.g., ankle sprain).

It’s too early to tell if any of Rudy’s immediate success will carry over to the regular season.

But with talent, opportunity, and confidence.

Anything is possible.

Now playing: The Ting Tings - Great DJ (Calvin Harris Remix)
via FoxyTunes

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