Rudy Gay’s arrival in Toronto was not only much needed for the fans, but it was just as crucial for a franchise that was desperately in need of star power and a face to sell to the Raptors faithful.

It may have cost them Jose Calderon and Ed Davis, but ultimately the move needed to be made.

DeMar DeRozan is an athletic talent that oozes potential, but he’s not that guy. Teams don’t truly fear him and he doesn’t sell tickets unfortunately.

Andrea Bargnani is often injured and when he’s had a chance to play this season, fans have booed him and gone to message boards to contemplate the multiple trade scenarios in which they could potentially involve him in to get him out of Toronto.

But Rudy Gay is different.

He isn’t a superstar, but he’s an established player in the league with talent. Someone in the same tier as Andre Iguodala, Joe Johnson, Deron Williams, Danny Granger, Chris Bosh (ironic I know) and Eric Gordon to name a few.

Gay might not be able to carry a franchise all by himself like say a Kevin Durant, but put enough good parts around him and the team might thrive.

That’s important in Toronto because the Raptors haven’t truly been relevant since Chris Bosh led them to the postseason in the spring of 2008.

Last Friday night, the Raptors hosted the Los Angeles Clippers in a contest in which the UCONN product came off the bench. The moment he checked into the game he was met with a chorus of cheers and applause as fans stood up to officially welcome him to the Air Canada Centre.

The forward didn’t disappoint, as he got out in transition within minutes to throw down a dunk that sent the home crowd into frenzy.

Chris Paul may have been absent from the Clippers’ lineup that night, but the Raps still played hard and with a lot more energy as the crowd seemed to carry them to a blowout of Lob City.

Gay was a stud as he produced dunks, converted tough layups in traffic and hit a few shots from 3-point range.

Rudy Gay was exactly what Toronto wanted and needed on this night.

Despite not yet being entirely in sync with his teammates and the team concepts, Rudy Gay used that contest against the Clips to catapult his production as a Raptor to 24.7 points, 6.3 rebounds and 2.7 steals per game on 42.9 percent field goal shooting in the three contests he’s played in as a new member of the franchise.

The numbers are impressive in their own right but the shooting leaves much to be desired. It goes without saying that the lack of familiarity plays a part in Gay’s offensive struggles given that he does not yet always know where to go on the floor based on his teammates’ tendencies, but there are still some other areas of concern.

For instance, the former Grizzly has gotten his fair share of open shots, but hasn’t been able to hit them with much regularity. In his three games as a Raptor, the new Toronto resident has converted 7-of-19 (36.8 percent) spot up jumpers per MySynergySports. Given that the sample size is quite small, let’s take a quick look at his shooting numbers in the 42 games he played with Memphis this season according to MySynergySports: while in a Memphis uniform, he converted 42-of-131 (32.1 percent) spot up jumpers.

The Memphis numbers suggest that what Raptors fans are getting at present time is as good as it gets and that’s a little problematic.

Again, Gay is the guy that Toronto needs at the moment given what he brings to the team, but shooting is not one of the added benefits of the Rudy experience. Dwane Casey will have to figure out a way to get his new forward closer to the basket in his sets because unfortunately he tends to float around the perimeter and just wait for the ball there. And when it hasn’t come to him, well he hasn’t gone out of his way to get it either. Part of that is because that’s who he is as a player but the fact he’s operating with new players has to have him on edge a bit about stepping on other players’ toes.

For instance, last Sunday against the Miami Heat, the Raptors called plays for Gay to get the ball either in the post or at the wing against LeBron James, but once the reigning MVP challenged his position on the floor, he stopped aggressively flashing towards the ball, which in turn prevented his teammates from delivering the rock to him in scoring position.

This is a huge problem because it means that his inability to fight for the ball stymies the offense and when he finally does get his hands on it late in the shot clock, it leads to poor shots given that he doesn’t have the required set of skills to consistently score on opponents in isolation situations. MySynergySports tells us that he’s converting 62.5 percent (five-for-eight) of his field goals in isolation situations as a Raptor but in his 42 games with the Grizzlies this year he only converted 35 percent (41-for-117) of those such field goals, which means we shouldn’t expect him to continue to shoot a high percentage in this specific scenario.

Rudy Gay has executed some highlight reel type of plays in his three games with the Raptors, but the previously cited issues have led to the offense suffering to some degree with him on the court.

NBA.com’s advanced stats tool tells us that Toronto scores 114.2 points per 100 possessions with their new highflying forward on the bench — a mark that would actually lead the league — but that figure drops to a staggering 97.8 points per 100 possessions when he hits the court, which would be 29th in the NBA.

It’s worth noting that the bulk of his offensive impact on the Raptors was measured against the Los Angeles Clippers, Boston Celtics and Miami Heat; which respectively position themselves as fifth, sixth and 11th in terms of top defensive efficiencies in the league.

Hence, his struggles have come against some of the Association’s fiercest defenses, which is somewhat forgivable; but if he is going to bring the Toronto Raptors back to their glory days, he may need to (gulp!) borrow the Vince Carter 2000-01 season playbook and be aggressive early, play a little in the pinch post and attack the basket often to set the tone for his team and allow them to play with a supreme air of confidence.

Raptors fans may very well deserve it.

Statistical support provided by NBA.com.

  • Dan M

    Uh… Who are you?

    • Jose will be missed

      Raptors average the same number attendance wise as the Thunder (13th)… I doubt we needed Gay to fill seats.

      • Kyle Gaudet

        ^ Oklahoma is a smaller city, smaller stadium…. 

    • BlakeMurphy

      Guest writer from Warriors World. Thanks JM!

    • Roarque

      Really?

      • Dan M

        Yup, really!

  • K.J.P

    Assessing  Rudy Gay should happen at the end of the year…not 3 games in.

    • FLUXLAND

      Why?  He nailed it.

      “He isn’t a superstar”  but has “star power and (is) a face to sell to the Raptors faithful.”

      “might not be able to carry a franchise all by himself ” but he can “throw down a dunk that sen(ds) the home crowd into frenzy.”

      “the shooting leaves much to be desired”  but “Rudy Gay has executed some highlight reel type of plays”

      In the end, “what Raptors fans are getting ….. is as good as it gets”.

      It’s the BC way: garbage in, garbage out.. hope sold every time, fans expecting different results. Remember, Bryan is always one trade, one roster tweak, one culture change away from building an 8th seed contender.

      Wait until the end of they year? For what?  With 12-15 games remaining you will see everyone getting minutes and meaningless wins racking up; the fans will be screaming of potential and just needing training camp so they can hit the ground running…next year. 

      Pound The Rock,baby!!

      • onemanweave

        Flux my friend,  thank heaven you are on this site, although I don’t understand why you waste your valuable time with us.  Without you we would be running around screaming of potential and cheering for meaningless wins.  Oh, we already are?
           Yes, we wish Riley were building us a team instead of BC, but I hear he’s kind of busy right now. If I could bother you just a little bit more — who, exactly, are the’ superstars’ in this league?
           Thanks, big guy, you are a ray of sunshine in a dreary winter landscape.

        • DumbassKicker

          lol, precious

        • FLUXLAND

          Anything I can do to help out, old buddy!  Never say you can’t count on me.

          But, why are we talking about me or other players in the L? I believe the topic is Rudy Gay and BC… please enlighten us with your rebuttals and  show the masses how wrong I really am. 
           
          No need to make this about  Crazy Ol’ Uncle Flux and his ways, is there?  Your paid shill ways and attempted distraction from the topic at hand with personal attacks is not appreciated by anyone but the blind herd, and smells very much of p00kitis?!

          Yet, to entertain you.. and since I said you can always count on me, let’s indulge you…

          Oddly enough, I was wondering the difference between superstar and star (power) myself, perhaps your question should be directed at the author, so we have a distinguishing point to start with.  Either way, whoever they are … they are attracted to competent organizations, as you so astutely didn’t bring up (LBJ to MIA, D12 to LA, KG to BSTN etc etc etc), just in case your itching to break out with the old “superstars are not coming here so let’s get what we can, while we can”.

          As always, thanks for your concern, and I know this is hard for you with the ADD and all, but let’s do our best and stay focused, we both know we/I can continue this personal jabbing ad infinitum; that would only detract from they wonderful and convincing points you continually make while crushing my opinions… err, wait.. you don’t do that, but here’s your chance. Let’s see if you can reply without any p00ka fan police content.

          • onemanweave

             Flux ol buddy, I agree that attacking each other isn’t all that productive and gets boring fast.  Never thought I’d hear you say it but I’m glad and I concur.
               I didn’t ask where the superstars were, just who.   Let me see — LeBron; Wade, I guess if a punk can be a ss; Bosh, no — a HOF I guess but not a super star unless you play him with LeBron; Chris Paul? Love?  Kobe was;  Garnett was; Nash was; Howard? Westbrook? Kyrie might be.
              How many superstars? How many teams?  No, I’m not gonna break out the old ‘they won’t sign here ‘whine.  Vince did. How many super stars? How many teams?
              There’s a fair number of franchises who have to stumble along with a very good player or two like Rudy as top of the food chain. Some, like our Raps didn’t even have that.
               Yes it’s very wise to say ‘you can win a ring without a ss and we don’t have one’. Most teams don’t. Most teams won’t.
                The Raptors are competing this year. They couldn’t manage that for a few seasons, now they can. I’ll take that as progress and continue to watch. If that makes me a thf, honk, honk!
                We don’t have LeBron. We have Rudy. He looks a lot more entertaining than the SF’s we’ve run out for a long time.
              You seem to have some knowledge of basketball. So do a lot of others on here. I enjoy listening to opinions and occasional differences of opinion.  I don’t enjoy constant bashing of people’s opinions. I’ll stop now. It’s been nice stalking with you.

            • onemanweave

               * “… can’t win a ring without one ….

  • Roarque

    Thanks for the fresh perspective JM.

    To me the biggest plus is RG’s stated wish to be the go to guy when the game is on the line.

    Andrea and DeMar have never told us that.

  • Slick_r1

    Seriously stop assessing players when all he’s done is play good so far since being in toronto. Who cares about stats. Rudy gay great addition to raptors!!!!!!

  • WhiteVegas

    Can we get some context for the MySynergySports data? Like, what the league average is for a SF, and what some of the elite SF’s in the league are shooting on their spot up jumpers. How about Rudy’s %’s from other parts of the floor? How about what % of his shots are spot up jumpers? Just throwing up one number without any context is of no use to the readers of this site.

  • kumarbrosyaman

    jm, thank you for a great article! i visit other teams’ blogs quite often and am adding yours to my short list. in a strange lowe-esque way you did it my man.

    i like the idea of playing rudy in the high post and get the team offense rolling from there. however, as you pointed out, he doesn’t have the requisite bulk strentgh and desire to execute, especially against strong post defenders like lebron.

    to earn his money rudy has to bulk up and start producing from the post. forget the 25 ppg and alley oop dunks, bring me 7-8 ftpg and 60TS%.

  • Raptorsgirl

    good one DanM

  • j bean

    Rudy needed out of Memphis to fulfill his destiny as much as the Raptors needed him to fulfill theirs. It was a win win situation.  Since his arrival there hasn’t been a game they’ve played poorly and against the Clippers and the Pacers they played better than they have for years.  He doesn’t have to improve his game to earn his money. Rudy’s game is well rounded. Besides leading the team in scoring with over 20 points in every game he doesn’t have a weakness the opposition can exploit.   He has to have the team around him improve and that looks to be happening.