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.


Tags: Memphis Grizzlies Rudy Gay Toronto Raptors

  • Slap Dog Hoops

    Just because he’s having an off shooting season, does not mean that he is in decline. Gay is not even 30 yet. Come on!!

    • Newmarket_Brian

      Jeffrey: Welcome back! As you can see from my above comment, I agree with your sentiment. A big drop-off would be a concern, a small one like he’s having is statistically insignificant. Tim’s point about Rudy now being the go-to guy is valid, and we can hope for a spike in his production.

  • Tim Bayer

    I think the fact Gay is having his worst season statistically but is still averaging 17.2 points per game – basically equal to DeRozan – as a 26-year-old is encouraging. It’s very rare for a player to start declining at that age. I’d expect him as the go-to-guy in Toronto to improve on those numbers quite a bit as well.

    • Newmarket_Brian

      Tim: I’m not terribly worried about Rudy being in decline. I am worried about his shooting from deep, which has never been his strong suit. DeMar doesn’t scare anyone from behind the arc either, and that’s a problem which opponents can exploit. Our bigs need better spacing, which 3-point shooting provides. Of course, now we’ve lost Ed Davis, who was developing nicely as an elbow-jumper threat (sigh) so now what? I wish I could envision the end-game BC is building towards.

      • Tim Bayer

        I would have to agree with the three-point concerns. When Bargnani comes back, he should improve that dynamic, but I don’t expect him to stick around much longer either. Terrence Ross has shown some ability to knock down three-pointers, but how much playing time will he get now that Gay is here? It will be interesting to see what else BC does to address these concerns.

        • Newmarket_Brian

          It’s hard for me to find any team who will take Bargnani off the Raps’ hands. Suggestions welcome. The best result might be for him to become a second-unit scorer.
          Ross isn’t going anywhere. He was supposedly in demand during the last trade talks, and BC said he’s not available. You’re quite right about playing time issues. Could Ross be a sometime point guard? Unless Alan Anderson can rediscover his shot, he may be the odd man out.

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