Rudy Gay Makes Toronto Raptors Instantly More Competitive

Mike Hoag@MikeHoagJrCorrespondent IIFebruary 1, 2013

Jan 28, 2013; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Memphis Grizzlies forward Rudy Gay (22) celebrates making the game winning shot with forward Zach Randolph (50) during the fourth quarter against the Philadelphia 76ers at the Wells Fargo Center. The Grizzlies defeated the Sixers 103-100. Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Rudy Gay will make his first start for the Toronto Raptors on Friday, Feb. 1, according to Sports Illustrated’s Chris Mannix (via Twitter):

Update: Rudy Gay will play for Toronto tonight. All players have passed physicals, trade has been finalized.

— Chris Mannix (@ChrisMannixSI) February 1, 2013

The 16-30 Raptors aren’t going to turn into title contenders overnight, though, after acquiring the star forward in a three-way, six-player trade on Thursday.

But, that doesn’t mean the move wasn’t the right one.

Toronto could certainly score points before, but didn’t have many legitimate options outside of DeMar DeRozan and Andrea Bargnani.

And Bargnani, who makes $10 million in 2013, has been and is currently being reported as on the team’s trading block (h/t Eric Koreen of the National Post).

That’s a problem; the Raptors are going to need to get points from somewhere and the options are growing thin. Wing-scorers are also some of the most essential pieces to building an effective NBA offense.

The addition of Gay to the mix will help the team move the ball up the court quicker and score more points as a result. His efficiency has taken a dip this season, but he plays well in transition and will do better in that regard in a more suitable offensive system.

Can he transform a 16-win team into title contenders? Not likely. The Raptors are what they are: an underachieving middle-of-the-road franchise.

Something had to be done, though, and it’s a good first step that should help the team show immediate signs of improvement.

While the win-loss results may not demonstrate it, the success will come gradually over the course of the season.

When the summer hits, the Raptors will be watching the playoffs and planning their offseason strategy. They’ll be looking for ways to improve the team after they evaluate what they see on the court with Gay’s addition.

What they’ll see is a faster and more aggressive team that attacks the rim more frequently. A team that will challenge and press opposing teams to their limit, regardless of the end result.

The trade may not produce instant wins, but positive change is coming for the Raptors and you’ll see it on the court from the get-go.