Rudy Gay will finally be able to show his fans in Canada what he can do in a whole season with the Toronto Raptors.
A month before the trade deadline last season, the Raptors took a gamble and acquired Rudy Gay in hopes of landing the quality scorer they haven’t had since the days of Vince Carter. Though his name doesn’t quite carry a legacy like “Half Man Half Amazing”, positivity is in the air for the 6’9″ small forward and his future with Toronto.
There were noticeable improvements in Gay’s game once he was traded north of the border. In two fewer minutes per game than he averaged with the Memphis Grizzlies to begin the season, he made slight increases in his points (17.2 to 19.5), rebounds (5.9 to 6.4) and assists (2.6 to 2.8) per game. His shooting efficiency also rose, from 77.6 percent to 85.6 percent at the free throw line, 31 percent to 33.6 percent beyond the arc and 40.8 percent to 42.5 percent in overall field goals. Not bad for someone who was still trying to adjust to his team.
After a half season with the team, Gay knew what he needed to work on during the offseason and has put in the work to make people believe he’ll come back better than ever. According to a recent report, Gay has added 15 pounds of muscle, practiced rigorously on his outside jump shot and also got eye surgery to fix an vision issue that he tried to keep to himself.
In a sport like basketball, adding on muscle can be a risky thing since the motions and strength put into jump shooting becomes muscle memory after years of hard work. Pairing visits to the weight room with consistent shooting practices is the best thing a basketball player can do with the weaknesses Gay had.
More muscle means a stronger overall body that can handle the paint much better. Last season in Toronto, Gay shot 42.5 percent in post-up situations and 50.44 percent in the restricted area, both of which should increase.
Along with that, but the shooting practices should help his percentages from outside rise, especially the 20.5 percent in spot-up scenarios from the three-point line. Call it crazy, but having better vision now should probably help as well.
With a better offense that Gay should bring to the table next season, it should open up the opportunities for others on the team as well. With more outside scoring, Jonas Valanciunas will find himself in better position in the post with the defense unable to sag off. DeMar DeRozan can learn about improving his shot from Gay and also continue to play well in transition and around the rim, and Kyle Lowry is still the veteran point guard of the team who can create for others such as Gay.
While this team is clearly not equipped for a postseason run, it’s the little things like offseason goals that can slowly bring a team up the rankings. The Raptors have a young core and Rudy Gay is expected to be the veteran to lead the way. So far he’s taking initiative and doing plenty of right.