Jan 23, 2013; Memphis, TN, USA; Memphis Grizzlies small forward Rudy Gay (22) brings the ball up court during the game against the Los Angeles Lakers at the FedEx Forum. The Memphis Grizzlies defeated the Los Angeles Lakers 106-93. Mandatory Credit: Spruce Derden–USA TODAY Sports

Rudy Gay, Raptor - what does it mean to us?

Jan 28, 2013; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Memphis Grizzlies forward Rudy Gay (22) celebrates making the game winning shot with forward Zach Randolph (50) during the fourth quarter against the Philadelphia 76ers at the Wells Fargo Center. The Grizzlies defeated the Sixers 103-100. Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

This post will focus a spotlight on Rudy Gay the player. I’ll write about what we’ve lost a bit later.

The small forward position has been nothing less than a disaster for the Toronto Raptors. Our current cast of pretenders includes Landry Fields, Linas Kleiza and Mickeal Pietrus, who share two inabilities: scoring, and staying healthy. The Raps have been playing 4-on-5 offensively all season. Now we have traded for Rudy Gay, who will be the starter immediately.

Rudy Gay is a 7-year NBA veteran, drafted #8 (7 spots after Andrea Bargnani – oh, to have a Do-Over button) from Connecticut. He quickly established himself as a scoring force, averaging 20 points in his sophomore season, and never fewer than 18.9 until this year, in which he’s averaging 17.2. Rudy is a quick, graceful presence on the floor, belying his 6’8”, 230 lb. frame. He’s a smart player, as shown by his steals per game average of 1.33 (very healthy for a non-guard) and his assists per game of 2.6. In fact, all his columns are full (as the coaches say), as he helps out on the boards (career 5.8 RPG) and averages almost one blocked shot per game.

His shooting from distance is a problem, and after this length of time in the league, unlikely to improve. In fact, he’s a career-low 31% this season, which is dragging down his overall shooting percentage to 40.8.

Whether Rudy is just having a slightly off-year statistically, or is in the throes of inexorable decline, I cannot say. Maybe he just needs a change of scenery – which he certainly has now.

On a personal level, everything I’ve been able to garner indicates Rudy is a quality human being. He’s close friends with Kyle Lowry, and is the godfather of Lowry’s son. He has also been deeply involved with Memphis charities for years.

There is no doubt that Rudy Gay is a quantum leap above the unworthy collection of has-beens and never-wases the Raps have been playing at small forward. His contributions are desperately needed by his new team, which he’s apparently happy to join.

The steep price we’ve paid to get Rudy in Raptor red will be my next subject.

 

Brian Boake is a staff writer for Raptors Rapture. “Like” Raptors Rapture on Facebook and follow us on Twitter @RaptorsRapture for all the latest news and updates about the best damn NBA team from Canada.

 

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