Rudy Gay's season underwent a remarkable transformation when he was traded from the Toronto Raptors to the Sacramento Kings well before the trade deadline. As it turns out, the uber-athletic small forward isn't embarrassed to admit that any longer.
He did as much while gearing up for a rematch with his old team:
You can't see me doing so, but I'm applauding Gay for owning up to his inefficiency.
During the 18 games he spent north of the border during the 2013-14 campaign, the 27-year-old posted a rather ugly line. While he was averaging 19.4 points per game, he was shooting 38.8 percent from the field, 37.3 percent beyond the arc and 77.3 percent from the charity stripe.
When you shoot as much as Gay did in Toronto, those aren't just bad numbers; they are "avert your eyes and try to find the nearest trash can" numbers.
Fortunately for the Kings, he's improved rather dramatically since making the transition:
|Team||Points per Game||FG%||FT%||TS%||PER|
That's not the type of jump you typically see from a player during the middle of a season. As Eric Koreen wrote for the National Post, "The poster boy for empty-calorie scoring has been kind of brilliant in Sacramento."
To put his futility with Toronto in perspective, he actually earned minus-0.7 offensive win shares during his time there, per Basketball-Reference. Despite scoring nearly 20 points per game, he was actually making the Raptors offense worse than it would have been had he stayed glued to the pine, something that became rather obvious when DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry both broke out in his absence.
With the Kings, he's already produced 2.7 offensive win shares. And yes, those are of the positive variety.
Gay is picking his shots with more care, and he's playing with confidence heretofore unseen from the forward. The combination has resulted in across-the-board improvement, even if the acquisition hasn't been enough to push the Kings into a higher spot in the Western Conference standings.
There's no question about his improvement, but one aspect of this story still remains uncertain.
How exactly did Gay figure out he was inefficient if he doesn't like looking at box scores?