What are Rudy Gay’s strengths on the court?
Rudy Gay is someone that, on a good day can be one of the most productive players in the NBA. At 6-foot-8, Gay has the length to score at will, whether creating his own shot or being on the receiving end of a great pass.
Last season, Gay averaged 17.2 points, 6.5 rebounds and 1.4 steals per game while shooting 46.3 percent from the field. From a statistical standpoint, Gay seems like a player that any team would want, especially since his contract is very affordable. But it’s not that simple.
The one stat that wasn’t mentioned above is assists. Last year, Gay only averaged 1.7 assists per game. That’s not only terrible, it’s shockingly awful for a player of Gay’s caliber.
Kobe Bryant (2.8 APG), Dion Waiters (2.0 APG) and Lance Stephenson (1.9 APG) all had more assists per game last year and the media criticizes them for being ball hogs.
The thing with Gay is that you have to know where he’s most effective. When you think about his play don’t think of Gay as a Swiss Army knife or a universal remote that can do 97 different things. Those distinctions go to LeBron James, Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant.
Gay may be better if told to focus on a particular set of skills. After searching through NBA.com, it revealed that there are three things Gay is more effective at than you’d think.
1: Catch and Shoot
On catch and shoot plays, Gay shoots 39 percent from the floor. That’s the same percentage as Draymond Green and better than Kyrie Irving (37.4 percent) and DeMar DeRozan (37.0 percent). All three of those players are in Rio trying to bring home the gold for the United States.
2: Creating his shot when the shot clock winds down
When there are 0-4 seconds remaining on the clock, Gay is a 37.0 percent shooter. Under those same parameters, Durant shot 36.2 percent and James Harden shot 33.8 percent from the field. Both players are seen as clutch performers.
3: Gay is a better on-ball defender than you would think.
There’s something in the NBA called percentage points difference. Now, before your eyes glaze over with boredom, it isn’t as complicated as you’d think.
All you need to understand is that it’s the difference between what players normally shoot and the percentage they shoot when player x guards them. As long as the number is negative it means that it’s good.
For example, lets say all shooting guards shoot on average 40 percent from the field. However, when player x guards those same shooting guards their efficiency drops to 35 percent. Therefore, the PPD for player X is -5. That’s really good. That’s Kawhi Leonard style defense.
Now, is Gay as good as Leonard? No, but he is above average at defense. Last season, Gay’s PPD was -0.9, which is above average.
So, what have we learned? Well, if you want Gay to lead the league in assists then you’ll be sadly disappointed.
However, if you tell him to be a catch and shoot player that can get you critical buckets and play defense then you’ll be pleasantly surprised. Here’s a clip showcasing those skills against the Milwaukee Bucks.
Life is about expectations and if Gay can be used in the proper roles, it could go a long way in making the Kings a much improved team. Hopefully, new coach Dave Joerger can learn to utilize his strengths and put Gay in the correct positions to maximize his potential.