A Closer Look at Rudy Gay’s Success in Sacramento

Dec 27, 2013; Sacramento, CA, USA; Sacramento Kings small forward Rudy Gay (8) reacts after forcing a turnover against the Miami Heat during the fourth quarter at Sleep Train Arena. The Sacramento Kings defeated the Miami Heat 108-103 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

It’s been well-documented - Rudy Gay just isn’t efficient, they say. He can’t shoot at a high percentage, the critics claim. And it was true. The 27-year-old struggled. Earlier in the season, while with the Toronto Raptors, the small forward even went as far as banning the statistic sheets from the locker room. He did not want to see his atrocious percentages – and why would he?

Through the first 18 games as a member of the Raptors, Gay was less, much less than what the team and its fans expected out of him after acquiring the former No. 8 overall pick via trade from the Memphis Grizzlies last January. They wanted a superstar – he wasn’t even close to being one. Toronto traded the troubled Gay to the Sacramento Kings, lasting less than one year with the Raptors.

Finally, after nine-plus seasons and being forced to relocate often, Gay may have found a permanent home. It is in the city of Sacramento, with the Kings.

Gay has appeared in a total of just 13 games with his new team, but there is already a paramount difference in his play. Since joining the Kings, he is averaging career-highs in points per game (20.5), field-goal percentage (50.8 percent) and free throw percentage (83.1 percent), while also getting to the charity stripe 5.5 times per contest as well, the most he ever has.

While Gay is still searching for his three-point shot in Sacramento, he is proving that he does not need it as much. The improved 6-8 forward refuses to settle for the long-range shots, but rather opts to take the ball inside more, driving more, and allowing himself better, and frankly, easier opportunities to get the ball through the basket.

Although he was with the Raptors for five more games than he played with the Kings so far this season, Gay had attempted a total of just five more shots between 5-9 feet. Now, not only is he shooting more from shorter distances, but it is going in at a higher rate as well. In Toronto, he shot a lowly 23.3 percent from that range. In Sacramento, however, the percentage has skyrocketed to 47.4 percent.

Gay’s 5-9 ft. shot chart as a member of the Toronto Raptors:

Gay TOR 5-9ftGay’s 5-9 ft. shot chart as a member of the Sacramento Kings:

Gay SAC 5-9ftThe improvement does not end there.

While in Toronto, Gay took 28 shots between the distances of 10-14 feet. Of those attempts, 13 were made shots – a respectable percentage of 46.4. Yet, he has taken it to another level with the Kings. Again, even though he has played five less games with the team, he has already taken 29 shots from that same range, draining them 58.6 percent of the time; quite an improvement.

Gay’s 10-14 ft. shot chart as a member of the Toronto Raptors:


Gay’s 10-14 ft. shot chart as a member of the Sacramento Kings:

Gay SAC 10-14ft

A recent knock on Gay has been the play of the Toronto Raptors since his departure. His former team is 11-5 without him and lead the laughable Atlantic Division with a 17-17 record. Gay, fair or unfair, was the top dog in Toronto and was relied on to consistently lead the team in scoring. While there were questions about whether the addition of Gay onto a team that features high-scorers such as point guard Isaiah Thomas and center DeMarcus Cousins would work out, Gay has quietly fit right in with the squad.

Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Gay is certainly still active, but his usage percentage (percentage of a team’s offensive possessions that a player uses while on the court), which was 30.1 percent and top-ten in the league in Toronto, has taken a positive dip to 24.7 percent.

It is still evident that Gay plays a large part in the outcomes of games. He averages 26.4 points on more than 51 percent shooting in Sacramento wins, while just 16.8 points in losses. His usage percentage also increases to 27.8 percent in victories, while it goes down to 22.7 percent in defeats (Cousins’ usage percentage in losses is 34.1 percent).

Gay certainly has flaws as a player, but who doesn’t? He’s talented and looks as determined as ever to make a positive impact in the league. If it’s any consolation, he won’t have to worry about banning any more stat sheets from locker rooms in Sacramento.


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