Memphis Grizzlies: 3 Reasons the Grizz Shouldn't Trade Rudy Gay
Nelson Chenault-US PRESSWIRE
With an impressive 8-1 record, the Memphis Grizzlies have started their 2012 campaign with a bang. After last season’s upset to the Los Angeles Clippers in the first round of the 2011-12 playoffs, the Grizzlies were sent packing after another disappointing season.
Among those criticized in the loss to the Clippers last season was their talented swingman Rudy Gay. Gay, despite his past inconsistency and injuries is not to blame, if anything, if the Grizzlies truly want to compete for a title, they will need him to play a key role.
Here’s why the Grizzlies shouldn’t opt to move Gay anytime soon.
His Scoring Ability
Curtis Wilson-US PRESSWIRE
When you look at the Grizzlies’ starting five, it is fairly balanced.
Michael Conley anchors the 1 spot, Tony Allen is a shutdown defender at shooting guard, Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph anchor the frontcourt, but the key factor in their formula lies in Rudy Gay at the 3 spot. Although Randolph and Gasol are solid scoring options on the block (both averaging 15 and 17 points per game respectively), neither can match the dynamic ability of Gay.
Gay’s impressive 40-inch vertical and 7’3" wingspan make him one of the league’s most fearsome finishers, and this season his jumpshot has been consistent over the course of the first nine games. Gay is currently among the top 15 scorers in the league (he’s averaging about 20 points per game), and aside from Z-Bo or Gasol, no one else on the team other than Gay will be getting the ball if the Grizz are looking for a key basket in key situations.
Another thing to keep in mind is how Gay matches up with some of the bigger forwards in the league. If the Grizzlies have to go head-to-head with an explosive forward like LeBron James or Kevin Durant, they will be looking for Gay to outduel them if it came down to it.
A recent example of a key matchup was against the New York Knicks. Gay looked solid, and although Carmelo Anthony shot 50-percent, he held him to a 20 points—a rather pedestrian number for an explosive scorer like Melo—while firing back with 17 points of his own.
Gay surviving these duels throughout the season will be paramount for the Grizzlies if they want to have success in the long term.
He's Finally Healthy Again
Curtis Wilson-US PRESSWIRE
For Grizzlies fans, injuries have been a frustrating part of their team's recent seasons. After losing Zach Randolph and Rudy Gay in the past due to untimely injuries, the lineups often fluctuated, and at times, fans rarely got to see what a completely healthy Grizzlies team would look like.
They got a glimpse last season, however. Despite a disappointing seven-game knockout at the hands of the Clippers, Gay’s playoff debut was solid—he averaged 19 points and six boards per game—but it wasn’t enough to win the series.
Although they fell short last season, 2012 is a new opportunity for Gay and the rest of the Grizzlies to redeem themselves for last year’s failure. Plenty of fans feared that Rudy Gay would be injury prone and inconsistent, but at full health, he’s proven that the past health woes were but mere anomalies. As the key piece in the proverbial puzzle that is the Memphis Grizzlies, a healthy Rudy Gay will certainly complete the picture.
Kirby Lee-US PRESSWIRE
If the Grizz front office traded Gay while they’re on their current tear, fans in Memphis would probably riot. This squad has so much untapped potential, and perhaps no one on the team has as much upside as Gay does individually.
Gay is only 26 years old, and he’s only going to get better on both sides of the ball. Coming into the league, scouts knew that his lengthy frame and tenacity would eventually make him a solid defender. As of this season, Gay is ranked within the top 25 as far as defensive rating is concerned. This stat relates to the combined total of charges, blocks and steals. As previously mentioned, Gay knows how to score the ball, but he’s only going to get better.
A lot of Gay’s scoring is going to come off of jab-step dribble drives or pullups, but he’s beginning to balance his supreme athleticism with cunning fundamentals. Sure, he’s had great seasons in the past, but now Gay has the opportunity to help the Grizzlies get out of NBA purgatory, otherwise known as perennially losing in the first round of the playoffs every season.
If he can help his team ascend to the next level utilizing his electrifying scoring, gritty defense and continued development, there’s no telling what he and his teams can accomplish. When you consider all the value Gay provides the Grizzlies with, there’s absolutely no reason a trade involving Rudy Gay should even come into consideration if you’re GM Chris Wallace.