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.