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Rudy Gay Fires Back at Critics: 'A Computer Just Can't Tell Talent'

OAKLAND, CA - MARCH 4: Rudy Gay #22 of the Toronto Raptors against the Golden State Warriors on March 4, 2013 at Oracle Arena in Oakland, California. 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 Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2013 NBAE (Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images)
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Zach BuckleyNational NBA Featured ColumnistSeptember 27, 2013

Maybe Toronto Raptors wing Rudy Gay is a big fan of science fiction. That whole computers-are-taking-over-the-world scare had to have caught his attention.

The seven-year veteran told NBA.com's Jeff Caplan that the league's move toward an analytical approach to statistics has put too much emphasis on the numbers. At least, ones that don't always paint Gay in the brightest light:

Honestly, how I view it, a computer can't tell talent, it just can't. When it comes down to it, it's all about winning, and however you get the win. According to analytics, you either [have] to shoot a 3 or get to the foul line, and it's not good for people like me that live in that mid-range area.

That mid-range area he's referring to is basketball's dead zone. The cost-benefit analysis of the shot says that there is no worse look in the game than the dreaded long two.

Success rates improve as players get closer to the basket. The point value of the shot increases by taking just a few steps back. Nearly 38 percent of Gay's field-goal attempts came from 10 to 23 feet away from the basket in 2012-13. He converted just 38.1 percent of those chances.

Few players have such a dramatic split in their conventional measures and their advanced stats.

From a traditional standpoint, Gay sits on the cusp of stardom. His 18.2 points per game ranked 16th in 2012-13. He and four-time MVP LeBron James were the only players to average at least 18.0 points, 6.0 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.5 steals last season.

On the analytical side, though, he's mediocre or worse. His career 16.1 player efficiency rating is a shade above the league average of 15.0. His true shooting percentage (49.4) was nearly 17 points lower than league leader Tyson Chandler (67.1). There was nearly a 20-point gap between his effective field-goal percentage (44.9) and DeAndre Jordan's (64.3).

Does that variance point to a problem with the system or a problem with the player? It doesn't sound like Gay plans to lose any sleep over the question, via Caplan:

Obviously, according to analytics, some of my opponents wouldn’t value me as much as they do. So, a computer can say what it wants, but as long as I get respect from my peers, that’s all that matters.

For Raptors fans, there's only one number that they'd like to see Gay improve. This postseason-hungry franchise needs him to bump Toronto's win column (34-48 last season), with or without the support of computers.

 

Statistics are courtesy of Basketball-Reference.com. 

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