Why Rudy Gay Is the Toronto Raptors' Future

Morgan Chalfant@@mchalfant16Contributor IIIApril 2, 2013

Why Rudy Gay Is the Toronto Raptors' Future

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    At the end of January, the Toronto Raptors acquired small forward Rudy Gay in a three-team, six-player trade involving the Memphis Grizzlies and the Detroit Pistons.

    Ever since, Gay has worked himself into the Raptors’ starting lineup and proven himself an integral member of the Toronto squad. Though he has recently been plagued by back problems, there’s little doubt that Gay will persevere and come back even stronger next season. Let’s pinpoint why Rudy Gay will be an important part of the Toronto Raptors' future. 

He Wants to Be a Leader

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    Gay has nearly seven seasons in the NBA under his belt, and as a new member of the Raptors he wants to lead the young team to success. As reported by the Toronto Sun, Gay said recently of the final games of the season, “Just this last go-around, I want to be a leader out there.”

    He added, “Obviously we are playing a lot of younger players. I’m just trying to help them grow as fast as they can and just be a veteran.” Toronto will certainly benefit from Gay’s leadership in seasons to come.

    A great player is valuable, but a great-playing leader is nearly irreplaceable. 

He's Looking Towards the Future

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    Not only is Gay prepared to take on a leadership role as the season winds down, he’s also looking directly toward his future with the Raptors and seems excited about his role in it. According to Rant Sports, Gay recently said, “We’ve got a lot of young players and we’re playing for next year.”

    The small forward continued, “These young guys need to know what it feels like to win.” So, his motivation to lead younger players to victory extends to next year specifically, when Gay will likely make an even bigger impact than his partial-season in Toronto this year.

    With even more time to integrate himself into the Toronto system, Gay will emerge as a principle force both in terms of leadership and play, especially when given enough time to recover from his recent back problems

His Coach Sees Him as an Integral Part of the Future

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    Rudy Gay is not the only one considering his role in the future of Toronto basketball; Raptors coach Dwane Casey expressed his desire to integrate Gay even more successfully into the team.

    According to the Toronto Sun, Coach Casey detailed, “We know what he can do…But what I would like to have is for him to be healthy to where we could get a rhythm and a style of play established with he and DeMar [DeRozan] and he and Kyle [Lowry] and that group more than anything else.”

    Obviously, Casey seems to have future plans for Gay as a leader on the court next to guards DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry. 

He's Determined to Overcome Injury

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    Though the 26-year-old small forward has faced back problems recently, he is determined to finish out the season strong and put his injury behind him.

    Gay said of rumors that he would be sidelined for the rest of the season, “The only way I’m going to get shut down is if the doctors tell me I need to stop playing.” He continued, “I’ve been forced out before and that’s not something I look forward to again.”

    Moreover, he added, “Personally, I’m the type of guy if there is basketball to be played, I want to be a part of it. I love the game, I love my job.” Rudy Gay is determined to stay on the court and his passion for the game will certainly enable him to overcome injury as best he can and see future success. 

His Numbers Are Impressive

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    For the 2012-13 season, Gay is averaging 18.0 points, 6.1 rebounds and 2.7 assists in 36.2 minutes per game. For the last 10 games, his assists and points were slightly higher despite about six minutes less of game play.

    On March 29, Gay helped lead his team to a 99-82 win over Detroit, totaling a team-high 21 points along with four rebounds and four assists in 26 minutes. Yahoo! Sports called Gay “a big reason why Toronto stole a road win.”

    Gay also played pretty well during his first game back after taking some time off to rest his back. Against the Atlanta Hawks on March 27, the small forward recorded a double-double and grabbed 12 rebounds.

    Even in the face of injury, Gay is a strong presence on the court. If and when he’s completely healthy next season, he will make even more of an impact for the Raptors on offense and defense.