Rudy Gay has had the ups and downs that one would expect from the typical NBA career, but he is finding new life in a struggling team with the Sacramento Kings. Since coming to Sacramento, Gay has seen his numbers start to come up out of the basement that they were in since his stop in Toronto. With a supporting cast of Isaiah Thomas and DeMarcus Cousins in town, Gay has been able to find a way to fit INTO the offense, rather than BE the offense. This is allowing him to find a home in the Kings’ offense and start to rekindle some of the fire that he had in Memphis. Gay’s resurgence in the statistical sense is not a surprise to anyone who has followed his career and can tell when someone is the entire offense, or a perfectly cut gear in a machine.
During his tenure in Memphis, Rudy Gay played with other playmakers that can have an impact on a game, Pau Gasol and Marc Gasol, Darko Milicic and Allen Iverson, just to name a couple. This allowed him to be a part of an offense and have the defense spread out over the entirety of the court, rather than just have them concentrate on him like they did in Toronto. Rudy’s play in Toronto was exactly what one can expect from a player who is getting a constant double- or even triple-team. He was the entirety of their offense and most of the shots taken were from low-percentage areas on the court. Having an opposing defense smothering him every night made Rudy’s stats start to drop at an alarming rate. Coming to Sacramento, where there is a team of young and talented players that can consistently make their own shot, has helped Rudy get back to his old ways a la the Memphis Grizzlies. The defense is having to contend with Demarcus Cousins down on the blocks, Isaiah Thomas at the point, Rudy out on the wing and inside the arc, as well as Derrick Williams on the other side. There is not one area of focus on the court, and now Gay can make his shots with less pressure, or even drive to the rim without much issue.
Shot selection has a major role in this revival story as well. Many of Gay’s shots in Toronto were coming off of an isolation, meaning he was manufacturing a majority of his shots himself. As a piece in the Kings’ offense, Rudy is coming off of screens, getting passes in the open wing, and generally taking shots that have a higher success rate than off the dribble isolations. With Sacramento, Gay is becoming the player that he used to be when he had a decent supporting cast. He is now able to get the feed to drive to the hoop against a single defender and finish the shot at the rim with a much higher completion rate. Having DeMarcus Cousins on the block will force a defense to pay more attention to what is going on down low, leaving the mid- to long-range shots more open. Rudy’s mid-range jumper has improved and now accounts for a good majority of his shots. Being able to step back and knock down the 3-pointer or being able to step in and ring in the mid-range jumper with minimal defensive interference is really a key to Rudy’s increased efficiency and scoring.
Bringing Rudy Gay to Sacramento seemed almost like a desperation move at first, but since he has been in the Cowbell Kingdom, he has shown that he is not the washout, used up player that most people thought he was upon his exit of Toronto. He is merely a player that was put in a bad position, and is now being put in a better position to succeed and be efficient with the help of his team and his coaches.