Since being acquired from the Toronto Raptors almost a month ago, Rudy Gay has played 12 games for the Sacramento Kings. Following the trade, the wins have yet to come (the Kings are 4-8 with Gay in the mix). However, Gay has added an angle of attack from the wing that the Kings have not had for the last six seasons.
At the time of the trade, the knock on Gay was his efficiency. Based on his numbers the last few years, it appeared Gay’s production was headed in a downward trajectory. With the Kings however, Gay’s numbers have bucked that trend and he’s found ways to still produce at a high clip while shooting at an efficient rate.
Gay’s true shooting percentage has skyrocketed following his arrival in Sacramento. Through 12 games with the Kings, the veteran wing has a true shooting percentage of 56.7 percent. That’s nearly 10 percentage points higher than the 46.8 TS% he recorded in 18 games with the Raptors. It’s also more than four percentage points higher than his career 52.4 TS%. Better shot selection (which we’ll touch on more later) coupled with more productive visits to the line have helped improve Gay’s true shooting percentage. With the Kings, he’s posted a free throw rate of 34.6 percent compared to 26.3 percent with the Raptors.
When the trade was consummated, much was made about Gay’s usage rate at the time. Through 18 games with the Raptors, Gay was ranked in the top 10 in usage rate, using 30.5 percent of his team’s plays while on the floor. Since coming to the Kings, that number has dropped to 24.8 percent. There was plenty of concern among critics that Gay teamed with Isaiah Thomas and DeMarcus Cousins would make for a bad mix on offense. All three Kings, however, have been able to find ways to produce together since the trade. After being the man in Toronto, Gay’s numbers suggest that he’s transitioned into a third option role with the Kings behind Thomas and Cousins. Since the trade, Gay is attempting 14.9 field goals per game – just about two fewer shots than Thomas (16.3 FGA) and Cousins (16.9 FGA).
As mentioned above, shot selection has a lot to do with Gay’s improved efficiency with the Kings. He’s settled for less long jumpers and shot closer to the rim. Of the 179 field goals he’s attempted through 12 games with the Kings, only 31.9 percent of them have been taken from 16 feet and beyond. Gay is taking and connecting on most of his shots within 16 feet, right around the perimeter of the painted area. Gay has clearly been most comfortable on the right side of the box, where he’s shot an efficient 12-of-26 from the field.
There are areas where Gay has struggled. His rebounding numbers have dipped in a Kings uniform, particularly on the defensive end of the court. Gay’s defensive rebounding percentage is down to 12.3 percent with the Kings compared to 19.3 percent with the Raptors. His assist percentage has remained relatively the same (11.7 percent with the Raptors vs. 12.1 percent with the Kings) while his turnover rate has increased (13.6 percent with the Raptors vs. 16.2 percent with the Kings). Gay’s 3-point percentage is also at a career-low in a Kings uniform as he is shooting just 21.4 percent from beyond the arc.
Overall, Gay has fit in quite well with his new team and addressed any doubts about the trajectory of his game. The Kings still have a ways to go, but the small forward spot is no longer a position of a weakness with Gay in the fold.
Statistical support provided by NBA.com/stats