Spruce Derden-USA TODAY Sports
There were a lot of questions from old-school basketball pundits when the Grizzlies traded Rudy Gay to the Toronto Raptors earlier this year:
"How can a contending team think dealing its leading scorer is a good move?"
"Who'll take their crunch-time shots?"
"Doesn't Memphis value Gay's athleticism and ability to create his own looks?"
Well, there's no one answer that addresses all of those questions, but now that the Grizzlies have advanced to the 2013 Western Conference Finals by beating the Thunder (and morphed into a true contender), it's safe to say we've learned that old-school wisdom has had its day.
Gay's departure opened up a world of possibilities that shortsighted analysts and subscribers to age-old NBA cliches didn't foresee.
Offensive possessions that used to end with Gay's contested jumpers now terminate after Marc Gasol or Mike Conley has created a shot for someone else. The low-percentage looks Gay generated gave way to better ones, as the Grizzlies offense subtracted his ball-stopping tendencies.
Plus, Zach Randolph became a bigger part of the offense and the Grizzlies could put two floor-spacing shooters on the court at once. Z-Bo put up 28 points and 14 rebounds in Wednesday night's 88-84 Game 5 win.
Trading Gay was an unequivocal win for Memphis. More than that, it proved that the analytics have officially displaced the nonsensical reliance on outdated truisms about "shotmakers" and "alpha dogs."
When stats guru John Hollinger took on an executive role with the Grizzlies, it signaled a sea change in the NBA. Old-school thinking isn't just a "loser"; it's dead.