Years in NBA: Rookie
Weight: 240 pounds
Key Stats: 17.5 points, 4.8 rebounds, 2.0 assists, and 1.0 steals in 30.3 minutes per game over 31 games in his senior season of college. Shot 49.8/37.3/73.6, attempting 4.8 three-point shots and 3.4 free throws a game.
Contract Status: Exhibit 10 contract: non-guaranteed rookie minimum with a bonus if Desi signs with LA or Agua Caliente Clippers, and can be converted to a two-way deal
Desi Rodriguez was added by the Clippers to their training camp roster not quite two weeks ago. He’s the 20th member of the roster, joining two two-way players and 17 other players with NBA contracts, all but one of which are guaranteed. Desi’s Exhibit 10 contract does indicate that the Clippers want to keep him in the organization, but it’s 99% likely that he spends most—if not all—of the season in the G League.
This has little to do with Desi, and a lot more to do with the fact that the Clippers have not just a full roster, but a roster stacked with mostly competent NBA players. If the Clippers were rebuilding, there’d be a greater chance that an undrafted rookie like Desi would get his shot, but it doesn’t seem all that probable this year. He is probably more of a small forward in the NBA, and that is one of the Clippers’ thinner positions, so if there are injuries it’s possible he gets a call up (if he remains in the Clippers’ organization, of course).
If Rodriguez does get a chance in the NBA, his strongest trait will probably be his three-point shooting. He was a plus outside shooter in college, and has a consistent, swift lefty stroke. Most players have to adjust to the NBA line, and Desi will probably be no different, but he should at least be a threat out there from the start of his career. The rest of his game will need time to develop at the NBA level. Desi has some solid offensive abilities, but he’s not super athletic or skilled for an NBA wing. There’s some promise of a 3 and D player with some off the dribble juice lurking in Desi, and it would be nice to see him working hard on those aspects of his game, as that’s his likeliest path to success.
The Agua Caliente Clippers are probably going to be stacked this season. Rodriguez will hopefully be playing there, as will two-way guys Johnathan Motley and Angel Delgado, and the Clippers’ rookie draft picks might have stints there as well. In that context, Rodriguez will play a more featured role, and it will be interesting to see how he does against much tougher competition (than the NCAA) as a lead option. Again, I do think outside shooting and defense are the most important abilities for Rodriguez to hone, so I wouldn’t be disappointed if his stats aren’t all that great, but he makes progress in those areas.
Really, it’s hard to have expectations for Desi Rodriguez this season. He’s likely going to be on a G-League contract, though there is a chance he upsets Motley or Delgado as a two-way player if he has a strong camp or one of them disappoints. If he gets NBA minutes at all for the Clippers, it will be because they’re tanking, they’ve suffered some horrible injuries, or he’s blown past expectations in the G-League. Only one of those outcomes is positive, and it’s also the least likely. Hopefully Rodriguez sticks in the Clippers’ organization: I really do think he could be an NBA player someday. It’s just tough to see him making any impact for the LA Clippers this season.