Did you know Mos Def released an album last year? That’s quite alright if you didn’t, as the 10-track collaborative effort with producer Ferrari Sheppard titled Dec 99th snuck by with minimal mainstream fanfare in 2016’s final days.
As hype slowly brewed over the course of the artist now known as Yasiin Bey’s seven-year sabbatical, few fans believed his new music would ever see the light of day. The sudden announcement and subsequent release would ignite a brief jolt of excitement from his remaining fanbase, but what followed ultimately disappointed. His long-awaited new creation offered what Pitchfork referred to as “by far the worst thing he’s ever released,” burdening listeners with uninspired moaning and little else over the course of 40 minutes. Some things just aren’t worth waiting for.
Look, Sergio Rodriguez was by no means touched Mos Def’s prowess in his initial NBA stint nor was he even close -- Black on Both Sides and Black Star remain certified classics, The Ecstatic is close, and The New Danger stands as one of the mid-aughts riskiest, if not overly ambitious rap records (sorry, I digress). But even if we surely overly romanticized Sergio’s contributions to the Brandon Roy’s Blazers squads just a bit, El Chacho did manage to build a reputation as one of Europe’s more fascinating players during his own seven-year break from the NBA.
Falling in love with him was easy, with a résumé including a 2014 Euroleague MVP and a bevy of highlights, especially having watched a Sixers squad bereft of any game management in the Hinkie era. Just look at our own headlines following his one-year, $8 million signing, like “Sergio Rodriguez Is the Point Guard the Sixers Have Been Waiting For” and “Sergio Rodriguez Is Suddenly A Very Important Piece For The Sixers.” As the saying goes, watching years of Isaiah Canaan makes the heart grow fonder.
You know how the story goes from there. Sergio consistently failed to live up to his stunningly acceptable first week, and he was unceremoniously removed from the starting five before we changed calendars -- coincidentally only nine days after Dec 99th’s release. Few fans would even question Brett Brown’s decision at the time: Chacho would routinely overdribble only to launch a contested 20-footer, a simple screen was usually enough to take him out of any defensive play, and he wasn’t helped by T.J. McConnell’s sudden flourishing behind the scenes.
Our nostalgia may have gotten the better of us -- clouding our judgement with memories of lobs to Rudy Fernandez -- but the simple truth was that the hype we built for Sergio Rodriguez would go unquenched.
But here’s something, I guess: what if I told you there was a way to magically transform Richaun Holmes’ offense into that of a mini DeAndre Jordan? Of all the stupidly absurd numbers you could dig up on this stupidly absurd Sixers season, this might be the most stupidly absurd:
Richaun Holmes with TJ McConnell (744 minutes):
- 51.9 FG%
- 58.5 TS%
- 1.17 PPP
Richaun Holmes with Sergio Rodriguez (374 minutes):
- 63.2 FG%
- 65.4 TS%
- 1.29 PPP
And in a way similar to how Sergio made Willy Hernangomez one of Europe’s most efficient players in 2016, Richaun would go on to convert 77 percent of the 48 potential assists received by Chacho all season. Their chemistry was seamless as it was inexplicable, presumably being complete strangers before training camp and possibly having never even seen the other guy play.
Does any of this mean it’s worth re-upping Sergio? Nope. The sample size may well be a flash in the pan, and Richaun isn’t the type of player to craft the roster around regardless. But the pairing became a fun game within the game to track, and certainly made for a more palatable bench experience than recent years.
Sergio would otherwise turn into a pumpkin without his trusty sidekick. Although his league-average 3-point shooting was well-received by this Sixers roster, his minus-2.13 defensive RPM ranked 79th out of 92 point guards, he made only 27 trips to the line in 1518 minutes, and his 39.2 percent conversion rate from the field ranked near the league’s bottom between players with at least 500 attempts.
So where does Sergio go from here? It would be unfair not to mention that he was likely never supposed to take the starting position he was eventually dethroned from, though early season-ending injuries to both Ben Simmons and Jerryd Bayless decided otherwise. But Sergio’s performance in his backup role exhibited the fine line between what is and isn’t a professional point guard in the modern NBA, and Bryan Colangelo did well in only requesting a one-year audition.
With a decidedly better McConnell, a (still) (somehow) unknown quantity in Jerryd Bayless, Point Guard Ben Simmons and a high first-round pick (Markelle Fultz, please) on the team’s books for next season, Chacho is easily the odd man out here. The Sergio Rodriguez experience was unfortunately not all we hoped it could be, and I will reluctantly swipe left on our old friend. Now leave me be as I watch old clips of the “Spanish Connection,” accompanied by “Mathematics” playing in the background.
What would you do with Sergio Rodriguez?
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Swipe Left (Get rid of)
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