“Rudy Gay is a notch below a superstar like Kevin Durant.”
“Rudy Gay has the best mid-range game in the NBA.”
“Rudy Gay is an unstoppable scorer.”
I’ve heard it all from those who live nowhere near Memphis. Gay is this and Gay is that. One thing Gay is no longer is a Memphis Grizzly, and I cannot contain my excitement. Gay was traded to the Toronto Raptors with Hamed Haddadi in exchange for Ed Davis (Raptors), Austin Daye (Pistons), and Tayshaun Prince (Pistons). The Detroit Pistons were part of this trade, acquiring Jose Calderon from the Raptors.
What many do not understand is that Rudy Gay is not the player they see on NBA 2K13. In my opinion, Gay is immensely overrated. Yes, he has a great jump and is pretty athletic. But everyone in the NBA is somewhat athletic, and most small forwards have a jumper of some sorts. Gay was a huge defensive liability for the Grizzlies and remains one for the Toronto Raptors. He does not slide his feet and is often arguing on the other side of the court as an opposing team is completing a fast break.
My friend Nathan likes to say that Gay is a poor man’s Kevin Durant until you see his salary. I have no better description than that. Gay is paid more than Russell Westbrook, Blake Griffin, and MVP Derrick Rose. If you think Gay should be paid more than any of these players, you would say that this is a bad trade. If you realize that Gay’s value is miles away from his salary, you live in Memphis.
With Gay gone, the Grizzlies’ “Twin Towers” (Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph) will be getting more touches. With Randolph shooting .472 and Gasol shooting .483 from the field, I would much rather have these big men shooting than Gay at .413. In addition, the Grizzlies upgraded defensively with the lengthy Prince who has always been known as a great defender in the NBA. Prince can also score though not with the frequency of Gay. Davis replaces the consistent Speights (traded to Cleveland) and provides a dynamic backup-front court with Darrell Arthur. Finally, though I do not know much about Daye, he has been known to be a good shooter who is currently slumping. If Daye can provide solid backup minutes to Prince, the Grizzlies will have a deep 10-12 man rotation.
The Grizzlies have an entirely different look than they did at the beginning of the year though three of the four main pieces remain. Of the 12 players on the Grizzlies’ roster, only six were Grizzlies at the beginning of the year. If the Grizzlies can begin to mesh together with the newly acquired pieces, this team can make a deep run in the playoffs and no longer worry about dumping a huge salary next year. Will the Grizzlies be successful even though they dumped what some believe to be their best player? Time will tell, but the current signs are encouraging.