NBA Rumors: 8 Reasons Memphis Grizzlies Must Resist Trading Rudy Gay

Tom FirmeAnalyst IIJune 15, 2012

NBA Rumors: 8 Reasons Memphis Grizzlies Must Resist Trading Rudy Gay

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    Rudy Gay had been rumored by Hoopsworld to have been placed on the trading block by the Memphis Grizzlies. Fortunately, Grizzlies owner Michael Heisley slammed the rumors, telling The Commercial Appeal the Grizzlies won't trade him.

    Grizzlies fans can be fortunate that Heisley put his foot down because the team can't deal Gay.

    The Grizzlies simply can't trade Gay. As fans saw this season, The Connecticut product means too much to the team for Heisley's organization to trade him. He's their most versatile scorer, one of their few capable three-point shooters and the key player to their transition offense.

    Following is a breakdown of those and other reasons why the Grizzlies need to restrain themselves from trading Gay.

Gay Was the Grizzlies' Hero of the Season

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    Anyone who believes that it is a foregone conclusion that Gay will be traded likely didn't follow the Grizzlies during the regular season.

    On January 1, the Grizzlies suffered a mortifying 40-point loss to the Chicago Bulls that was made more sickening by the injury suffered by Zach Randolph.

    It later turned out to be a partial MCL tear.

    The Grizzlies were presumed dead for the season by many observers.

    Nevertheless, the Grizzlies didn't give up. That was largely because Gay stepped up after Randolph went down. This borderline All-Star put the team on his shoulders offensively—he averaged 19 points per game on 47.1 percent shooting the rest of the month. He led the team in scoring in 35 of his 65 games played.

    He finished the season at 19 points per game, 4.4 points per game more than Marc Gasol, Memphis' No. 2 scorer.

    Gay took over as an unquestioned shooting leader. He took 16.4 field-goal attempts per game, five more than Gasol, the No. 2 shot taker.

    For the Grizzlies to trade this athletic small forward after he led the Grizzlies to their first home-court advantage in the playoffs despite the absence of Randolph for most of the season would be absurd.

Gay’s Scoring Is Difficult to Replace

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    Rudy Gay is a solid scorer who makes up a substantial amount of the team’s scoring. The Baltimore native averaged 19 points per game this season, which was 20 percent of the Grizzlies’ scoring. While Gay’s 19 per game doesn’t seem like a high total, he was still a top-25 scorer.

    Out of players who saw action in at least 80 percent of games (53 games), Gay was 19th in scoring average.

    Gay can typically be counted upon to put up shots when the Grizzlies need someone to step up. He has averaged 16 field-goal attempts per game for five straight seasons (from 2007-08 to 2011-12).

    When Gay and Zach Randolph went down with injuries for extended periods of time in the last two seasons, Lionel Hollins was able to count on players like Tony Allen and Sam Young to score more.

    However, having Allen score 12 points per game for an entire season would be too much to ask for. The parts of the last two seasons when Allen had to score more demonstrated that he turns to ball over more when he has to shoot more.

    Anyway, the Grizzlies would be at a huge loss if they were to trade a top-25 scorer in Gay.

Most Versatile Scorer

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    Not only would the Grizzlies lose a key scorer, but they'd also lose their most versatile scorer. Gay is a strong scorer from various spots on the floor. He can hit from mid-range and three-point range. His ability drive to the basket is superb.

    The sweet-shooting wingman can go from wire to wire to score and make big plays in transition.

    He can dunk like few other wing players can. Gay goes up strong and throws it down with style.

    No one else on the Grizzlies can do so much in the scoring department. For an offense that was 20th in points per game (95 points per game) and 19th in offensive rating (104 points per 100 possessions), keeping the most versatile scorer is essential.

Three-Point Shooting

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    The Grizzlies were a poor three-point shooting team this season. They were 25th in three-point field-goal percentage (32.6 percent). Only two players hit at least 35 percent from three-point range, Mike Conley and O.J. Mayo.

    While Gay wasn't among those to hit 35 percent from three-point range, he's a highly capable three-point shooter. He shot 39.4 percent from three-point range in the first half of the season before falling off in the second half to finish with a 31.2 percent mark.

    The six-year pro has mostly had a nice touch from three-point range in his career. He's hit at least 34.5 percent from three-point range in four of six seasons as a pro.

    In 2010-11, he hit 39.6 percent from three-point range before suffering a season-ending injury.

    His career mark is 34.7 percent.

    The Grizz need to have all the three-point help they can get. Losing someone like Gay who can knock down three-point shots would narrow the offense quite a bit.

Few Small Forwards Are Better Than Gay

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    Rudy Gay is a high-end small forward who is hard to replace. Michael Heisley told The Commercial Appeal that if the Grizzlies were to trade the 2006 first-round draftee, they’d have to get someone better in return.

    As far as small forwards go, that’s very difficult.

    The Grizzlies wouldn’t be able to trade for LeBron James or Kevin Durant. One can never tell if a trade market will open up for Carmelo Anthony, but the Grizzlies probably wouldn’t want to take him on, even if they could acquire him.

    Danny Granger is on the same plane as Gay, but no matter how many pieces the Indiana Pacers have, they probably wouldn’t be willing to deal Granger.

    With such a limited number of players at the position who are better than Gay, the Grizzlies would have no way to trade him and put someone at small forward who would sufficiently fill the void.

Transition Offense

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    Rudy Gay is the key player in the Grizzlies’ transition offense.

    He’s the most likely of any Grizzlies player to be seen breaking away after a steal to receive a pass on the fast break and slam it home. Gay runs out on the fast break with aggression and goes to the basket with greater control than anyone else on his team.

    The transition offense is a significant part of the Grizzlies’ scoring attack, and Gay is an essential part of that part of the offense. If the Grizzlies were to trade Gay, then their ability to run in transition would suffer tremendously.

Defense

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    Rudy Gay is a major facilitator in the Grizzlies’ defensive attack. He’s adept at pressuring his opponent and forcing turnovers. Gay averaged 1.5 steals per game this season.

    His advanced metrics show just how much of an impact player he was on defense. Gay allowed 102 points per 100 possessions, which is a very nice figure. He had 3.3 defensive win shares.

    That he had 0.5 more win shares on defense than on offense shows that he was a big difference maker on defense.

Size

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    Rudy Gay’s size is incomparable among small forwards. He’s listed as 6’9” and 220 pounds. Hardly any small forwards are quite that tall. Kevin Durant is 6'9". LeBron James is 6’8”.

    Small forwards generally tip the scales around 6’7”. To find one who is as tall as Gay is uncommon. The Grizzlies would lose a player with a significant height advantage if they were to trade Gay.