I like Rudy Gay. I think he’s more versatile than a lot of people give him credit for and he’s still a gifted scorer. I think you can put together a championship-worthy roster with Rudy Gay in your starting lineup. However, these are all just things I think, and it’s pretty clear that even well into his career, people still don’t really know what to make of Rudy Gay.
Rudy initially looked like he might be a casualty of an increasingly efficiency focused league. After serving as Memphis’ go-to scorer for much of his early rise, Rudy was shipped off to Toronto only to watch Memphis find a new gear in a more ball movement based scheme. The era of the black hole scorer was over it seemed. The Rudy Gays and Monte Ellis-es of the world were on their way out. The ball movement trend hasn’t gone anywhere and it has to be hard for fans of opposing teams to watch the Spurs or the Warriors whip the ball around the court and not feel jealous.
However, the decline of the ball dominant scorer hasn’t been quite as drastic as people were claiming only a few years ago. Monte Ellis continues to find takers despite also sporting an attitude problem and Rudy Gay continues to be a critical offensive piece in this league and it hasn’t been due to any huge change. Gay’s shots-per-game have dropped but only slightly, and while Gay did sport a better three-point shot last year, he’s had hot seasons from deep before. It’s not quite time to call it a trend.
What is Rudy Gay though? A ballhog? A third option trying to be a first or second one ? Just another swingman with a decent-mediocre three-point shot. It’s not clear and that really came through in last night’s game when the CSN broadcast team was continuing telling us that Rudy could get “30 or 40, no problem” yet later was deriding him for taking bad shots saying he needed to catch it in places where he could shoot. There’s nothing wrong with needing some help creating your shot and for the record, I think Rudy can get his own shot, I just don’t think he’s in the top tier of shot creators the way we were being told last night. But, if you need as much help getting into scoring position as was being suggested, 30 or 40 isn’t any cakewalk.
At this point in his career Rudy functions best as a second or third option, because fairly often, he needs a little help to free himself up to score. He can’t carry an offense anymore. When he tries to, you get games like last night. A lot of forced shots, a lot of frustration fouls and a beat down at the hands of the Phoenix Suns. Yes, Boogie being out has forced the Kings into a tough spot, but I don’t think forcing Rudy to try to carry the team is the answer.