Every summer, the Rudy Gay will make your team better or the Rudy Gay will make your team more efficient once he’s off your roster marches across the NBA as teams try to fill holes in the roster with athleticism and shooters. Rudy Gay checks the box. He is athletic. And he can shoot. But the ball sticks in his hands, he doesn’t particularly play with pace and he seems to have a reverse effect on a franchise. When he leaves, they get better. Hence, all the rumors about Rudy Gay being traded.
Gay was so used to it over his career, he barely shrugged. On cue, the Sacramento Kings floated Gay’s name in trade rumors which made zero sense, and yet falls within the Kings intellect. They drafted Hassan Whiteside and let him walk. The next year, the Kings drafted Bismack Biyombo instead of Klay Thompson. They passed on Damian Lillard for Thomas Robinson. So trading Rudy Gay, a player they willingly gave a three year deal to, fits in with their character. But they never did trade him despite all the threats.
Now the Rudy Gay Sacramento Kings saga is finally over. How did it turn out?
19.3 points. 46.4%. 34.7% from three. Never in the playoffs. Never an All-Star. 223 games. 34.5 minutes. Good Rudy Gay numbers.
Gay is opting out his deal after tearing his Achilles. It’s hard to know what Rudy Gay will be after such a catastrophic injury. He will be 31 when the 2017-18 season begins and his life will be very different but could it be worse than with the Kings who haven’t been to the playoffs in eleven years? He had a $14 million option and it’s a gamble that he is going to get more than that on the open market and a deal longer than three years.
Before his season ended prematurely, Rudy Gay connected on 45% of his shots, the fifth highest efficiency in his eleven year career. His rebounding numbers of 6.3 were the fourth highest of his career. He played small forward 59% of the time and power forward 38% of the time. His turnovers were the seventh lowest in his career. His 18.7 points a game were slightly more than his 18.4 career average. His PER rebounded to 17.9 after a dismal 15.5 in 2015-16, the lowest since his rookie year. His offensive rating was nothing spectacular, 105, and his defensive rating was 109, so he wasn’t really stopping a lot of people.
Rudy Gay has always carried a lot of baggage because he looks like an All-Star but in key moments he comes up small. He stays pretty much on the perimeter; he doesn’t like physical play or contact. He is not a particularly good screener. He can never be the best player on the team or the second best. He functions as a third option, making open shots on the wing. He can score points but the points he scores don’t consistently make an impact. They aren’t late in games with everything on the line because he can’t be a team’s best player. He lacks versatility in his offensive game. He doesn’t routinely put the ball on the floor and get to the rim and his leadership skills are vague.
But he will still draw suitors because of the numbers game. In this new NBA an athletic small forward who can space the floor is coveted. Rudy can space the floor. Can he drain shots and can he guard his position is the question.
It’s obvious that Gay wants out of Sacramento and his Achilles injury hasn’t changed that. Once they traded Boogie and decided to develop some of their young players- or- remain the clueless Kings to many people’s thinking, Gay knew there was no place for him. He’s at the age where he wants to win, or at least, compete in the playoffs. The last time Gay was in the playoffs was five years ago when he was playing in Memphis.
He only has 7 playoff games under his belt. That particular series against the Clippers, a first round exit in which the Grizz lost a game 7 at home, Gay was outplayed in crucial stretches by Nick Young. As humiliating as that was, particularly shooting 21% from three, Gay still averaged 19 points a game. That is the Rudy Gay paradox. He will give you 19 points and you will still lose.
photo via llananba