Those Americans who watched the 2008 Beijing Olympics should know his name by now: Rudy Fernandez.
Today, August 29, 2008, I’m picking Fernandez to sneak up on the NBA and garner the third most Rookie of the Year votes in the upcoming season (no offense to the young Spaniard, but Michael Beasley and Greg Oden are just too good).
“Why?”, you might ask.
Well, if you paid any attention to the Spain’s Olympic squad, outside of Pau Gasol, Rudy was the most impressive player to me. Not to mention, there are three other legitimate NBA players on the Spanish roster in Jose Calderon, Marc Gasol, and Jorge Garbajosa.
Rudy may be a little too trigger-happy at first glance, but he really looked to settle into the game as the Olympics went on. Granted, he rushed a few shots at inopportune times, but this kid can really ball.
At 6’6”, he causes fits for smaller defenders, especially with his exceptional touch from deep—and I do mean deep. Rudy jacked up a couple bombs during the Beijing games that were easily three feet behind where the NBA line would be.
Scarier yet, is that the 23-year-old star will be playing alongside Brandon Roy and big-man extraordinares Oden and LaMarcus Aldridge. It’s almost a certainty that Oden will get double-teamed in the low post, leaving incredible chances for Rudy to take aim and fire.
If you don’t recall seeing Rudy’s deep talents from the United States’ 37-point thrashing of Spain in Olympic pool play, maybe the much closer 11-point title game made you take notice. Rudy dropped 22 points, on 5-9 from distance, leading his team’s charge to stick close with the Americans in the gold medal game.
His talents are also seen on the defensive end, as he can guard larger opponents with his rather tall stature. The topic of concern surrounding Rudy is more of an off-court deal, as he needs to greatly improve his English. It will definitely take time for him to become adjusted in the NBA and America, just like it has for many other European stars.
I do believe, however, that because Rudy has faced such stiff competition this summer at the Olympics, he is ready for the on-court rigor that the NBA will throw at him from the get-go.
If his shooting touch weren’t enough, one drive against the Orlando Magic’s Dwight Howard in the gold medal game showed that Rudy can drive to the rim with authority, as well.
If you didn’t catch it live, I leave you with this:
Predicted statline: 12.8 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 2.7 apg
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