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Monday, September 30th, 2013 at 10:50 am  |  45 responses

Top 50: Rudy Gay, no. 37

It’s Gay’s time to show and prove as Toronto’s go-to scorer.

by Duane Watson / @byduanewatson

Last season, Rudy Gay went from being the most hated player in the NBA by Raptors fans, to the most beloved by the Toronto faithful. Having become expendable, the Memphis Grizzlies shipped out the 6-8 swingman in a three-team trade in February to Toronto where he instantly became the No. 1 option. Gay brought something to the Air Canada Centre that fans haven’t seen in over a decade: A wing-player who can score at will, in a myriad of ways, and a closer that will take, and make, clutch shots.

In only 36 games wearing the red, white and black, Gay had increases across the board in points per game (2.3), PER (3.5), FG% (1.7), FT% (8.0) and 3PT% (2.6). Most importantly, Toronto went 18-18 in those games as opposed to the 16-30 prior to his arrival. Was he the sole reason for the turnaround? No, but he was a big part of it. Now, Gay is about to start his first training camp and full season as the top dog in Toronto, again in a position to carry a franchise. So why has the Baltimore native had one of the biggest drops in the SLAM 50, sliding from 25 last year to 37?

Gay is surely a victim of the good player on the not great team parable, but it’s more the issue that he’s been a good player and not a great one for most of his career. Offensively, Gay’s length and athleticism create space for him to get the shot that he wants, while defensively, his gifts allow him to be aggressive, make adjustments and quickly recover. Gay recently made criticisms about advanced stats, which is alright as not everyone lives by those numbers, but the standard stats still tell the tale. Gay is a flat out scorer, yet not the most efficient, shooting 41.6 percent from the field last season. His defensive stats last year of 1.5 steals per game and 0.9 blocks per game fall in line with his career averages, but still don’t fall in line with top-25 numbers.

Yet expectations can be a hell of a thing. So when Gay scores 29 points, grabs 3 steals and blocks LeBron James in a head to head match up, in only his second game as a Raptor in a loss to Miami, there are expectations. When you are the best offensive weapon the franchise has seen since Vince Carter, and possess the ability to close games, there are expectations. And when you are the highest paid player on your team, set to earn $17.8 million for the ’13-14 season, there are expectations.

But Gay doesn’t care about expectations—he just cares about his play and the respect of his teammates. He’s nowhere near the downside of his NBA career, but the talks of him as a “potential” All-Star are growing quieter and quieter. So although he can very likely average 20 points this season and lead the Raptors to the playoffs, does that elevate him ahead of his Eastern Conference peers in James, Carmelo Anthony and Paul George?

No, but it still places him amongst the top 10 percent of the League. The waiting game is over, the forecasts of a breakout season can subside: Gay is who he is and that’s not a bad thing. It would be great if he turned himself into a 20-5-5 player, or utilized his length to be one of the top rebounding 3s in the League, but that’s not going to happen. But hoping for him to become a more efficient and accurate scorer who doesn’t settle for his jumper as much, isn’t an unreasonable request. Gay is a top threat on some teams and a solid number two on others. He’s more than comfortable with being the go-to guy when a bucket is needed, but in the end regardless of who we want him to be, he’s always going to be “fucking Rudy Gay, man.”


Where should Rudy Gay rank in the SLAM Top 50?

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SLAMonline Top 50 Players 2013
Rank Player Team Position Pos. Rank
50 Monta Ellis Mavs SG 5
49 Luol Deng Bulls SF 10
48 Ricky Rubio TWolves PG 14
47 Greg Monroe Pistons PF 12
46 Kawhi Leonard Spurs SF 9
45 Mike Conley Grizzlies PG 13
44 Al Jefferson Bobcats C 9
43 David Lee Warriors PF 11
42 Jrue Holiday Pelicans PG 12
41 Anthony Davis Pelicans PF 10
40 Joe Johnson Nets SG 4
39 Serge Ibaka Thunder PF 9
38 Kevin Garnett Nets PF 8
37 Rudy Gay Raptors SF 8

Rankings are based on expected contribution in ’13-14—to players’ team, the League and the game.

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  • spit hot fiyah
  • Raptors2014champs

    Expecting big things from Rudy this year. Gotta step the game up big time if he wants to be elite. GO RAPS!

  • spit hot fiyah

    “When you are the best offensive weapon the franchise has seen since Vince Carter,….”

    are we just going to act like john lucas lll didn’t play there?

  • Saleem Rainman

    If that corrective surgery he had on his eyes help, that’ll be kool. I’d be happy with him shooting 45% and up tbh. As long as it isnt in the low 40′s…

  • RKJ92

    Wow a Raptor in the top 40 players? Am I dreaming..? Lol don’t wake me up!!

  • TR

    Who are the other SFs…LBJ, KD, Melo, Paul Pierce, Paul George, Iggy? Batum? Parsons?

  • aндрій базилевич

    fucking rudy gay man …classic.

  • aндрій базилевич

    its true we had nothing to show for on the “global stage” so dont act esoteric

  • http://twitter.com/niQknacks niQ

    You should see the parodies. Whenever Rudy Gay made a clutch shot while ON the Raptors, you would hear the audio from the video you posted.. lol.

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    LeBron – Durant – Melo – George – (Josh Smith) – Iguodala – Pierce – (Danilo Gallinari)

    One of those two, if Smith is considered a SF, then it’s him.

  • Dagger

    “When you are the best offensive weapon the franchise has seen since Vince Carter . . .”

    Sorry, I still give that to Bosh. Easily.

  • davidR

    doubt danilo makes it, especially coming off injury. gotta be josh smith

  • Sergio

    What about Granger?

  • LakeShow

    Definitely.

    Even Andrea Bargs scored more per game than Gay ever has at the same FG%…

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    idk, can he even run yet?

  • Stepfan Raiford

    He has all the tools to be in the conversation of the eite small forwards in the league.

  • Dundler

    You have got to be kidding me. I’d take more than half of the players already listed over Rudy Gay. I was a real fan of Gay and sure that he just needed things to click for it to all come together, but the shots he takes, the effort on D, its not there. He’s just a scorer, and he’s not even one of the best at that. Really did not expect to see him on the 50.
    (And Bosh was a better Raptor)

  • TR

    True true, forgot about Danilo

  • Omar

    “fucking Rudy Gay, man”???!!!!

  • danpowers

    rudy gay at 37? after everything hollinger told us? really? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lITBGjNEp08

  • danpowers

    wait for it. the only raptor deserving that spot in the not too distant future will be
    valanciunas, but not not rudy gay. even derozan could surpass gay this season.

  • Dundler

    And none of the tools needed to make foresaid tools build something

  • Dundler

    Derozan isnt that far off now. I wouldnt have been surprised to see him at 50/49

  • Guest

    Please explain.

  • danpowers

    if he only developed a reliable long range game…

  • Evan Boland

    Really? No.. Too high.

  • Dundler

    Absolutely. Hes got holes in his game, but took large steps last year (making it all the weirder that the Raps went after Gay)

  • Dundler

    Effort. Iq. A dedication to the team. I once thought he had these but he proved me wrong. Think of Vince Carter, but on a much smaller scale

  • Nathan Shane Long

    Most overrated small forward in the league truth is Rudy career peaked three years ago and the honeymoon in Toronto lasted two weeks last season and he shot the ball horribly last season

  • MUBWAR

    bosh was just more efficient, but he never score more 24 points. vc averaged 25 26 & 27 in 3 of his first 4 years in tdot.

  • MUBWAR

    dude is clutch but not very efficient during the whole game. basically the opposite of Bosh. as long as him & dd can bring us to the playoff, raptor fans will forget the absurd amount of money he’s gonna earn the next couple of seasons.

  • Dagger

    Yes . . . I was comparing Bosh to Gay, not Carter.

  • https://twitter.com/jasontichenor Mr. Wet

    apparently he looked sharp and healthy in practice. But I don’t think he’ll be a top 50 player this year no matter how healthy. Especially if he comes off the bench.

  • AddingVelocityDontTellMe

    tank and grab Andrew Wiggins.

  • AddingVelocityDontTellMe

    I wouldn’t put Melo above Paul george. Rudy Gay outclasses iguidola, pierce, gallinari, and josh smith.

    Rudy gay is in top 5 sf position.

  • Rashad HandzMcgee Clark

    I couldn’t vote him higher than 37 simply because Memphis did better in the playoffs without him.. Than With him

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