We have made a habit of skewering Rudy Gay early in this season. His inefficient offense has been the biggest culprit to a disappointing first month for the Toronto Raptors. We do not want to hear how a first-place team cannot be considered disappointing; their divisional circumstances are beyond bizarre and we don’t feel an argument can be made to the contrary. This is an underachieving basketball team that needs a spark. We did not think that might come from an unusual request by Gay.
On Saturday, the Toronto Sun published an article regarding Gay’s request that post game stat sheets get banned from the locker room. According to the article, each player is issued a stat sheet after the game that details his individual and team stats. Gay seems to think that players get too caught up in their stats and not focus enough on team objectives. He claims that either win or loss, people come in and stare at those sheets. And now Gay has had enough.
Well, we are not quite sure what to make of this. We couldn’t blame Gay for wanting to ban stat sheets, because, um, Gay should not want anyone to see his stats. Anyone who would look at that sheet would probably say that Gay’s frequent 9-25 nights are the reason they are under .500. Does he hate the stats because they are a distraction to the team, or does he hate the stats because the stats hate him?
It is also noteworthy to question Gay’s sensitivity with statistics. Before Gay was shipped out of Memphis last season, the Grizzlies hired former stat guru John Hollinger from ESPN to be a front office presence in an attempt to move toward more advanced statistics in their basketball decisions. When Hollinger was able to get a sample size adequate to do his analysis, Gay was traded. It was apparent that Gay’s efficiency did not match his massive salary.
Now we hardly need super advanced analytics to see that a 37.5 percent field goal percentage on almost 20 shots a game is not adequate and something we would not blame Gay for wanting to hide, but he could be getting touchy with this stuff. Is Gay feeling like stats, advanced or not, are exposing him and putting a bit of a black eye on his career? As we have discussed in previous columns, there has to be a reason why he is seemingly on the trading block all the time, and, as we said before, good enough to be wanted but not good enough to be needed. Of course, we will see if Gay really does not care about stats when he posts a 3-4 game with 12 assists. We expect to wait awhile.
With all the stat jokes and analysis of Gay’s motives aside, it does appear that his heart is in the right place here. It really seems like he wants to win and thinks that the barrier of individualism is keeping them from reaching their potential. If this lights a fire under the Toronto Raptors, then we will applaud Gay for a selfless act that rallied the troops and got them focused on team basketball. But Gay needs to prove that individual stats don’t matter to him on the court either, not just in the locker room, and that means cutting down on the 25 shot nights. So far, so good, though, and time will tell if this leads to more wins.