Although Rudy Gay played the best basketball of his career this season in his 54 games before suffering a season-ending injury, the Memphis Grizzlies must have some doubt about awarding Gay with a maximum contract extension. The doubt surely stems from how little the team missed Gay during their last 28 contests.
In fact, the Grizzlies actually played better without him in the lineup.
Over the course of the 54 games in which Gay was in the lineup for the Grizzlies, Memphis outscored opponents by 2 points per 100 possessions. Yet, in the 28 games the Grizzlies played without Gay, they outscored opponents by 3.6 points per 100 possessions—even in the last two contests of the season when the Grizzlies were not even trying to win.
There was no single statistical category in which the Grizzlies became worse when they played without their second-highest-paid player.
Gay has been just the fourth MVP for the Grizzlies in terms of win shares per 48 minutes behind Zach Randolph, Marc Gasol and Tony Allen.
Despite Gay playing better than ever before, he has been just another guy for the Grizzlies this season.
Maximum contract guys are supposed to be so much more than that.