Sunday, October 14th, 2012 at 3:00 pm  |  26 responses

Top 50: Rudy Gay, no. 25

The definitive ranking of the NBA’s best players.

by Dave Spahn / @davespahn

Never one to outwardly boast about his accomplishments, Rudy Gay has quietly put up All-Star numbers year in and year out. He runs the floor like a guard, can defend almost any position on the court, and shows off an incredible amount of offensive versatility.

His 19 points and nearly 6.5 rebounds per game leads a Grizzlies team that faces the exact same problem Rudy faces: They both struggle to find a true identity.

Name a small forward with more potential, who’s more productive, and who you would rather throw into your starting lineup other than LeBron and Durant. Gay has every single tool you want out of a young player on the cusp of being a superstar. His length, athleticism and offensive skill set make him a coach’s dream and a defender’s nightmare.

But Rudy lacks a true identity on the basketball court. He falls in love with his jump shot too often and doesn’t always assert himself on the defensive side of the ball (then again, very few players actually assert themselves on defense for 48 minutes).

Rudy is the type of player who has all the potential to make the USA Olympic team, win an NBA Championship, or even place himself among the 15 best players in the NBA. There are very few things on the basketball court Rudy can’t do, and he takes pride in being a good teammate on and off the court.

The problem? He needs to be more aggressive and assertive on both sides of the ball. Too often you see Gay settling for a jumper three feet behind the three-point line when he could easily take his man off the bounce and slam down a ferocious dunk.

The bottom line hasn’t changed since Rudy entered into the NBA—his potential and long-term value shoot through the roof. He easily could wind up being a multi-year All-Star and a guy with multiple NBA rings. He also could easily be a guy who we talk about in 10 years as one of the “could’ve been” guys—could have been great but never reached his full potential.

Rudy was snubbed from USA Team (don’t care what anyone else thinks), and I hope he uses that to fuel his fire. Rudy has all the capabilities of becoming a perennial All-Star. But only he will decide if he ends up there.

Where should Rudy Gay rank in the SLAMonline Top 50?

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SLAMonline Top 50 Players 2012
Rank Player Team Position Pos. Rank
50 Greg Monroe Pistons C 8
49 Tyreke Evans Kings PG 14
48 Brandon Jennings Bucks PG 13
47 Stephen Curry Warriors PG 12
46 Ricky Rubio TWolves PG 11
45 Al Jefferson Jazz PF 14
44 Anthony Davis Hornets PF 13
43 Serge Ibaka Thunder PF 12
42 Al Horford Hawks C 7
41 Ty Lawson Nuggets PG 10
40 Danny Granger Pacers SF 6
39 Tim Duncan Spurs PF 11
38 John Wall Wizards PG 9
37 Monta Ellis Bucks SG 8
36 Zach Randolph Grizzlies PF 10
35 Roy Hibbert Pacers C 6
34 Tyson Chandler Knicks C 5
33 Eric Gordon Hornets SG 7
32 Kevin Garnett Celtics PF 9
31 Manu Ginobili Spurs SG 6
30 Amar’e Stoudemire Knicks PF 8
29 Marc Gasol Grizzlies C 4
28 DeMarcus Cousins Kings C 3
27 Paul Pierce Celtics SF 5
26 Andre Iguodala Nuggets SG 5
25 Rudy Gay Grizzlies SF 4

• Rankings are based solely on projected ’12-13 performance.
• Contributors to this list include: Jake Appleman, Maurice Bobb, Rodger Bohn, Brendan Bowers, Franklyn Calle, David Cassilo, Bryan Crawford, Adam Figman, Eldon Khorshidi, Eddie Maisonet III, Ryne Nelson, Ben Osborne, Allen Powell II, Sam Rubenstein, Jonathan Santiago, Abe Schwadron, Leo Sepkowitz, Dave Spahn, Ben Taylor, Tzvi Twersky, Peter Walsh, Tracy Weissenberg, Yaron Weitzman, DeMarco Williams and Dave Zirin.
• Want more of the SLAMonline Top 50? Check out the archive.

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  • nelodamus

    Wouldn’t be surprised if got traded mid-season.

  • danpowers

    why that?

  • danpowers

    good read i just wouldnt call it snubbed from team usa. he is more talented than guys like chandler, love, davis and maybe also iggy. the thing is just that he is a pure sf and that team usa already had james, durant and anthony. i wouldnt see that as a downgrading rudy. just a victim of circumstances.

  • gusisit

    he was going to get traded to the bobcats for corey magette and the 2nd pick but since that fell through, i think they will just hold onto him

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Mike-Gilbert/100001749589586 Mike Gilbert

    There was talk about luol deng and taj gibson for rudy….good trade for both teams

  • Justin05

    You would think it’s a point guard and power forwards’ league but the two best basketball players in the world play the 3.

  • http://www.facebook.com/qcollingwood Interdico Scriptor

    That’s terrible for Chicago.. don’t do it!!

  • TR

    Good write up, Rudy Gay should be one of the best in the game

  • monkeyball

    Based solely on projected 12-13 performance I would take a healthy T Evans, R Rubio, S Curry, D Granger, E Gordon, or M Ginobili over a healthy R Gay. Too high on SLAM’s list last year, too high this year. I my Bulls trade Deng and Gibson for Gay I’m going over to United Center and kicking someone’s ass.

  • Dnton

    But other than LBJ and KD35, most of the other small forwards are kinda “meh”, including Rudy Gay (although I’ll give you Carmelo and Iggy).

    PG is the most loaded position in the league. Drose, CP3, Dwill, Rondo, Nash, Lawson, Parker, Westbrook are all still flat-out balling at an elite level. Then you have up-and-comers like John Wall and Kyrie Irving who will probably hit that elite level this season. And we don’t even need to mention players like Curry, Jennings with huge upsides (I consider Tyreke a SG tbh)

  • justin05

    I agree w/ most of what you said. This is definately a guards’ league but the best two players are way better than everyone else and naturally play the 3. Howard is #3 in my opinion and he’s a center.
    This is John Wall’s season to prove that he can play at the elite level but if not soon then Idk if he’ll ever get there. I see more upside in Irving & Curry and I think they’ll bounce back from their injuries just fine.
    Tyreke is a shooting guard but, sadly, I think his best years have already passed. He can still play a large role for the Kings but not as the #1 option. Not a fan of Jennings, he’s a mini version of Melo at the point guard position in my opinion. He can be clutch just like Anthony too but there’s just something about them I don’t like.

  • H2K

    I’m wondering if Harden will be higher, this should be his spot, not Gay.

  • Caboose

    Really? Tyreke Evans over Rudy Gay?

  • spit hot fiyah

    he would put much crazier numbers if it wasn’t for the grizlies being so deep. that is one of the few teams in the L that really play unselfish

  • Dnton

    Well you could say that in the years before KD and LBJ, where the league was being dominated by SGs and PFs, there were three players vying for contention for best player and only one of them was an SG. Shaq (C), Duncan (C/PF hybrid, I really don;t know where to classify him sometimes) and Kobe (for all he hate he gets, in 2005-2010 he could make a case for being the best player on the planet, still think he’s a douche tho). And tbh LBJ should slowly make his migration to the post, he always seemed to fight the 4 role slightly better, it’s the position that will extend his career since he is physically Karl Malone with a PG’s court vision.

  • KidSwoosh

    25 might be a little high, but seems to be around the right area for Rudy….I’ve always tended to group him, Iggy and Granger in that same category as impactful, yet underappreciated players while being the “stars” of their teams….great scorer, very athletic nd like the article said, still has alot of potential….I personally felt as though he should have been an AllStar this past year, but if he can keep balling out this season, his time will definitley come.
    Also, despite the starpower on the Knicks/Lakers, the Grizz might have the most balanced/skilled frontline in the NBA nd if Rudy/Z-Bo/Marc are all healthy for a full season, Memphis could make some noise this season
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WK7lIjFsGvg ……someone had to do it

  • Datkid


  • Datkid

    I’d consider that. If they could throw boozer in there instead of taj then you’d HAVE to take it.

  • Datkid

    John Wall still has more upside IMO than kyrie and Steph but I agree overall. and I think Tyreke, after developing under a good coach could definitely be a #1 option. a trade from the kings would probably do a lot for him.

  • Mike From Spain

    I would rank Iguodala better than Rudy Gay. Rudy Gay is a chucker, Iguodala is a more complete player.

  • http://www.facebook.com/qcollingwood Interdico Scriptor

    I saw this yesterday. Cmon SLAM!! keep yr shit together… more the point, come on the NBA season! 14 days to go!!! Boo YA!!!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/qcollingwood Interdico Scriptor

    BTW Rudy Gay at 25 is too high. PPierce is way better with better numbers and is def more clutch.

  • Drig

    The bigger shock for me was him believing Curry could be healthier i.e. play more games than Gay lol

  • Max

    Not this guy!!
    F*cking Rudy Gay man!!

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    that was never going to happen.

  • Datkid