Toronto Raptors: Reviewing the Rudy Gay Effect on the Raptors

Joshua J Vannuccini@@jjvannucciniSenior Analyst IIIFebruary 20, 2013

NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 13:  Rudy Gay #22 of the Toronto Raptors heads for the net as Raymond Felton #2 of the New York Knicks defends on February 13, 2013 at Madison Square Garden in New York City. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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In one of the biggest trades this season, Toronto acquired Rudy Gay from the Memphis Grizzlies. The team sent away veteran Raptors Jose Calderon and Ed Davis, who were both having stellar seasons.

However, adding a player of Gay's caliber was hard to pass up. Let's see how he's done with the team so far.

The 6'8" small forward has only played eight games in the red and black, yet Gay's impact is undeniable. He's averaging 21.2 points and 6.6 rebounds per game, but is shooting just 38.3 percent from the field.

While it would be biased to remove statistics to see a certain outcome, Gay's awful 4-of-21 shooting performance against the Knicks prior to the All-Star break plays a factor. He shot 19 percent for the game, and that number tips the scale negatively when reviewing his accuracy.

Gay shoots 41 percent once that subtraction is made, and proves his scoring isn't all that bad. He's had 20 points or more in six games with Toronto and has been a major factor in their current win streak.

The Raptors have won five straight, with important victories over powerhouse teams like New York, Denver, Los Angeles (Clippers) and Indiana. The latter was a superb game for Gay, as he scored 17 of his 23 points in the fourth quarter and overtime. He went on to hit the game-winning jumper with 1.7 seconds left and Toronto has not lost a game since. 

The team is 6-2 through February and could very well match January's collective effort of 10-6 before the month is out. Their next game will be against Memphis, as Gay opposes his former team for the first time, in what will be a three-game homestand. New York and Washington follow, before Toronto heads to Cleveland as they head into March.

Securing a victory over the Grizzlies would make a statement not only the team, but for Gay himself.

He was oft-criticized for his play in Memphis; however, his output of 17.2 points and 5.9 rebounds wasn't poor. Gay was mostly picked apart due to his defense, which hasn't been an issue with Toronto.

The Raptors are holding opponents to 92.8 points since his arrival, which would rank fourth in the league in points allowed per game. Toronto's season average of 98.9 comes in at 19th, so the difference is quite obvious.

The disparity in terms of their opponent's production with and without Gay on the court is astounding.

When their new star is in the game, Toronto allows 96.4 points per 100 possessions, which is about the league average.

When Gay heads to the bench, this spikes to a ridiculous 118.5 points per 100 possessions. Whether this is a testimony to his presence or the inability of the bench, it is more than likely the team adjusting to its new rotation.

Calderon and Davis were major cogs of the Toronto engine, and now with both elsewhere the rest of the reserves must come together. The aforementioned points-allowed difference may very well be indicative of a lack of comfort with the players, and this number will surely settle to a reasonable level.

Nonetheless, Gay has had an overall positive impact on the team despite what the statistics will tell you.

The Raptors are shooting worse from both the field and three-point range with him on the court. The most alarming drop is the 8.1 percentage drop in three-point shooting, yet Toronto scores 3.9 points less per 100 possessions with Gay on the bench.

As many would explain, statistics never tell the whole story. Gay has affected the team positively both offensively and defensively. The numbers don't depict this, but a five-game win streak surely does.

The Raptors have one of the most exciting young cores in the league, with Gay, DeMar DeRozan, Kyle Lowry, Jonas Valanciunas and Terrence Ross. Depending on how the rest of the season plays out in the Eastern Conference, Toronto has a chance to make the playoffs.

If this current level of play continues, it can become a reality. Yet even if the Raptors fail to appear in the postseason, they'll have a solid idea of what to expect next season.

Their first-round pick in the NBA draft is owned by the Houston Rockets, due to the Lowry trade last November, yet the Raptors have enough pieces to, once again, become a good team in the East.

Nevertheless, with the Raptors having Gay at the helm and a plethora of young talent, Raptors fans can look forward to the future of this team. Under Gay's leadership and ability Toronto will certainly make the playoffs, which could come as soon as next season.

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