Desi Rodriguez is a 6’6 senior wing who leads the Pirates at 17.8 ppg. He can score it on all 3 levels and is a physical presence with a soft jumper.
He comes in shooting 50% from the floor and 38% from long range. This is the guy NC State needs to focus on stopping. That’s why we took the time to check out some of Seton Hall’s big wins and examine what Rodriguez does that makes him effective.
Here is what we found:
Rodriguez wants to take you off the dribble, but he’s not super quick. This means he has to find other ways to keep his defender off balance. He does this by adding in a pretty consistent mid-range jumper. But there’s a catch. He only shoots is going to his left. Actually, we couldn’t find any clips of him going right and pulling up. However, he has a knack for getting to his left, and when he gets space, he can hurt you.
He has very good elevation and a high release, but this is not the strongest part of his game. If you have an option to give up the pull-up with a hand somewhat close to his face as opposed to taking away the shot and letting him drive, you give him the pull-up all day. He can get it going, but at times he uses too much power on his elevation and his shot can go flat off the bounce. They key here is to stay in front of him and not allow him to get on your shoulder. If you face him up and make him shoot over you, his percentage will dip.
Rodriguez is a unique player no matter how you look at it. He’s big, he’s physical but can also shoot it from deep. He hits an impressive 38% of his shots from long range, but after watching a good amount of footage, he does have some tendencies to be aware of.
You can’t let him spot up. His 3pt% increases by a lot when he’s left open. If you’re wondering why, take a look at this clip below. Rodriguez spot up 3 is a lot more controlled and repeatable. You’ll see he has less elevation and uses his upward momentum on the release instead of to create separation on his jump. This makes him a more accurate and fluid shooter from long range.
Now let’s see the difference when he’s shooting off the dribble from 3. He’s not as comfortable with this part of his game. In fact, it’s rare that Rodriguez breaks you down or uses a screen and rises up for 3. He can hit it, but his percentage definitely dips when he’s going long range off the bounce.
Well, it seems as if he’s really honed his 15-foot pull-up. On that shot, he’s forced to really elevate and keep his release high since he’s usually in traffic. This is using a good bit of his energy to raise up, but it works because it’s a shorter shot. He seems to use those same mechanics off the dribble from 3, but with the distance obviously longer, he if forced to power his shot with his arms and thus, it becomes a lot less fluid. This causes his shot to be less accurate and causes it to come off flat. If you’re going to let him get a shot, you want it to be off the dribble from 3 with a hand in his face.
Attacking the basket
This is where Desi is dangerous. Again, he’s not super quick, but he’s usually a lot quicker than the guy he’s guarding. However, against NC State it’s likely he’ll start out with Al Freeman on him. Freeman will give up about 3 inches, but he can pester Rodriguez and get him out of his comfort zone.
That is an advantage to going small against the Pirates. Once Rodriguez turns the corner on you, it’s just about over. He’s got such a wide frame and he’s outstanding at using his body to create contact and separation. Couple that with his soft touch around the hoop and you have a guy who can put points on the board quickly.
Check the clip below. Rodriquez has a nice handle and he’s trying to toy with his defender, but obviously, the defender didn’t’ pay attention during his film session. If he did, he wouldn’t have fallen for the between the legs hesitation. If Desi wants to step back and shoot a 3, let him. The risk/reward there is in your favor. Also, watch the defenders feet. He leads with his right foot and closes his hip up to the lefty drive, which is exactly what Rodriguez is looking for. We’ve watched a lot of game film on this guy and we’re confident in saying that Rodriguez is not very dangerous going to his right. So sit down, keep a hand up and whatever you do, don’t let him get on your shoulder going left.
Let’s look at another one. This time (below) Rodriguez is going off a ball screen. Note how the defender of the screener decides to sink low and cut off the pass. This allows for a downhill drive that is basically unstoppable. NC State is going to have to hedge that screen high and hard to keep Rodriguez from turning the corner. It’s not a bad bet either since when he has the ball in his hands he’s really laser-focused on scoring and rarely showcases any real vision in the passing game. He averages just 2 assists per game.
Rodriguez is Seton Hall’s 3rd best rebounder and averages about 5 per game. What is interesting is that he doesn’t really do much damage on the offensive boards. It’s likely the case that their big man, Angel Delgado, is such a good offensive rebounder (he has 124 on the season) that there isn’t many left for Desi. But, watching clips we saw a different story. He’s active in the paint and extremely tenacious when he misses a shot. He’s going to be in there and going to be throwing around his weight, especially against what will likely be a smaller defender so State needs to put a body on him on every shot attempt.
Defensively, Rodriguez is decent. He’s physical, he had good balance and footwork, but again, he’s not super quick. He does put good effort in on the defensive end at times and will get out in the passing lane and jump a pass. Below is an example, although that one was kind of gifted to him.
Where he may struggle is being pulled out to the perimeter by someone like Al Freeman. He’s got length and size, but Freeman is a very tough assignment. He can do damage off the dribble attacking the rim, or he can step back and beat you from 3. Seton Hall may be forced to go small and get Desi matched up with Dorn, which would be a more even showdown.
Desi Rodriguez is a handful and a very talented player, but he’s not without his flaws. He is much less effective going to his right and his shot off the dribble tends to go flat. If NC State can really focus in on forcing him into situations where he’s uncomfortable then they’ll have a big advantage. There’s also the fact that Rodriguez has been battling a foot/ankle injury that cost him 3 games recently. He returned during the Big East Tournament to play against Butler, but he wasn’t ready. He only got 16 minutes (he did score 8 points), but he wasn’t explosive and didn’t seem himself. Pirates head coach Kevin Willard said Rodriguez will play against NC State, but think he’ll be closer to 70 or 80% for the game.