The Los Angeles Lakers are set to sign Brazilian point guard Marcelo “Marcelinho” Huertas to a one-year deal. The Brazilian might sound a little familiar, and he should be. In 2012, he lit up the Team USA in the final friendly match before the Olympics with 13 points and 11 assists. Considered good enough to make most NBA rosters at the time, what can he bring at the age of 32 to a young Lakers team?
This isn’t 2012, but Huertas can play solid minutes in a backup point guard role, something that has been lacking in recent years. Jordan Clarkson isn’t that viable of a backup this season, as he is expected to start at SG.
Expect Huertas to bring a game similar to that of former Laker Steve Nash (are you guys done cringing?). He has excellent court vision, and will easily wow the Staples Center crowd with some flashy tricks and near impossible angles on his passes. In the past he has shown an ability to make three-pointers consistently, although he has seen a decline in his percentage in recent years. He is a great free-throw shooter with an 86.9% for his career. He should benefit from Byron Scott looking to add a bit more P&R this year. Look for him to be very vocal and attempt to be a leader (Huertas will not have any problems with cultural adjustment, he went to high school in Texas).
Huertas has risen up to the level of his competition in almost any game that he played in, but that won’t necessarily carry over to a full 82 game season in the NBA. He will struggle with the surplus of elite PG talent that is to be found on a night to night basis, and the 2nd unit will need rim protection behind Huertas. He also won’t reach peak effectiveness as a result of not starting; Marcelo seems to naturally want to control the game and he wants the ball in his hands during crucial moments. It also remains to be seen just how heavily Scott decides to run pick & rolls with the team.
This signing would have been perfect if Mike D’Antoni was still coaching the Lakers, but he is not. Huertas will have to learn how to make himself effective in short spurts, knocking down threes and getting the 2nd unit into a groove. The ability to do that is there, it’s a matter of how he fits within Scott’s system, how he is affected by the higher competition level of the NBA and the physical toll of playing an 82 game season.