San Antonio Spurs: Good play from Rudy Gay is crucial

Photo by Ronald Cortes/Getty Images
Photo by Ronald Cortes/Getty Images /

The San Antonio Spurs are not having a good year, but when Rudy Gay plays well they are hard to stop.

Rudy Gay has been relegated to third option on the San Antonio Spurs behind two stars in DeMar DeRozan and LaMarcus Aldridge. He has taken to the role well, averaging 13.9 points per game this season, up from 11.5 per game last season. On top of this, he is averaging 7.0 rebounds per game, up from the 5.1 boards he averaged last season.

While these numbers are nice, they have not resulted in enough wins for the Spurs this season. They have a 13-14 record, which is good for 11th in the Western Conference, tied with the Minnesota Timberwolves. The only teams with worse records are the Utah Jazz (13-15), the imploding Houston Rockets (11-14) and the rebuilding Phoenix Suns (4-23).

However, there is still light at the end of the tunnel for the Spurs. They are just two games back from the 8-seed, currently held by the Dallas Mavericks. The West is so tightly contested that every game means something. The play of Rudy Gay may be crucial to the Spurs’ playoff hopes.

By the numbers

Rudy Gay has notched five double-doubles in 23 games this season. When he has a double-double, the Spurs have a 4-1 record. The only loss came against the Indiana Pacers, who they lost to both times they played last season.

Furthermore, when Gay has a plus/minus of more than +10, the Spurs have a 4-2 record. Drilling down further, when Gay has a plus/minus of more than +10 and a double-double, the Spurs are 2-0.

On the flip side of the equation, when Gay has not played, the Spurs have a 1-3 record. When Gay has a plus/minus of more than -10, San Antonio has an 0-5 record. So when Gay is not playing or has a poor plus/minus, the Spurs have a 1-8 record.

Past 10 games

In the past 10 games, the San Antonio Spurs have a 5-5 record. In that time, Gay’s numbers are markedly different. In the five wins, he has averaged 14.0 points, 7.8 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game. These numbers are solid for a third option. He had two double-doubles in these games, including the 23-point, 15-rebound effort in a win against the Jazz.

The story is a little different in the five losses. He averaged 11.0 points, 5.0 rebounds and 2.4 assists per game. This includes a 31-point explosion in an eight-point loss to the Los Angeles Lakers. It took a 42-point effort by LeBron James to defeat the Spurs. Sometimes those nights happen.

The Spurs are struggling thanks to another season where some key players have been injured. While this story is starting to be put on repeat for the Spurs, this season was meant to be better with the addition of DeRozan.

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Unfortunately, the rest of the West appears to have improved, meaning Gay needs to step up and perform night in and night out. Without this, the Spurs do not have the firepower — even with their two stars — to compete at the level they are used to.