Memphis Still Needs Rudy

Rudy Gay nails a game winning shot right between the eyes of Lebron James

Despite the 93-87 loss in game 2 tonight against the Spurs, the good times should still be rolling in Memphis. Going back home with the series tied at one’s with arguably the league’s best regular season team should be quite an accomplishment for a team that has never won a playoff game in franchise history.

The Grizzlies hung tough once again with the Spurs last night. No one was surprised. In fact, people were picking this upset before the series started.

The casual fan must be wondering how anyone could fathom Memphis taking a game off the Spurs much less winning the series without their franchise player in Rudy Gay. They just signed him to that fat five-year $82 million contract this past off-season. How can you beat the Spurs without your best player?

The casual fan may be asking how they’re doing it without their star but Memphis fans and those who follow the NBA closely are now questioning Memphis’ need for Rudy Gay. Memphis went 15-10 down the stretch to secure a playoff spot without their star while playing some stiff competition. They even tanked the last two games to assure themselves a matchup with the Spurs.

It’s okay Grizzly fans, not to worry because you still need Rudy Gay and his flabby contract.

The numbers don’t always tell it all. I realize that Memphis’ winning percentage down the stretch without Rudy was .600, more than 50 points better than when Gay was in the line-up. Yes, Memphis was more efficient on the offensive end, outscoring their opponents by 3.6 points per 100 possessions as opposed to 2.0 per 100. Overall, they were better statistically without Rudy Gay.

Well you know what they say, don’t ya?

Stats are for losers.

Rudy Gay may have been playing the best ball of his career this season prior to his injury, averaging 19.8 points, 6.2 rebounds and shot almost 40 percent from beyond the arc. However, that’s not why the Grizzlies need him in order to take the next step as a team.

The Grizzlies need the scoring wing player who can give you your close, late game, isolation offence. They need it as badly as Ron Artest needs his psychiatrist and it couldn’t have been more apparent in game 2.

The recent recipient of a hefty contract extension, Zach Randolph is one of the toughest guys to guard in the league. Sports Illustrated Zach Lowe went as far to say that he is “one of the league’s truly unguardable offensive players.” Nevertheless, going to Z-Bo late in games is not the easiest offense when the defence collapses and the best guy spreading the floor for your team is Shane Battier.

Look at it this way. All the best teams have a go to scorer who can get their offence at will. Derrick Rose, Kobe Bryant, Wade and Lebron, Kevin Durant, Manu Ginobli and the list can goes on. I guess I should throw in Michael Jordan just for kicks.

The Orlando Magic don’t have a scorer who can simply get his at will. It’s probably why the Magic won’t win building solely around Howard.

It would be a capital offence to put Rudy Gay in the same category as the guys mentioned above but at the same time he is not in another dimension as those players either.

Playoff defence is tight and when the best teams clamp down with five minutes left in the fourth quarter it is the weaker teams that have more trouble executing. It’s not a coincidence that only four number eight seeds have gotten out of the first round in NBA history. However, you run your late game offence through a dynamic player like Rudy Gay and suddenly things are looking a little brighter. Remember his game winner against the Heat earlier this year? If you’re not a Raptor or Grizzly fan you probably have no idea that he hit a virtually identical game winner in Toronto.

The current make-up of the Memphis Grizzlies presents a bright future but if you can sit there and tell me with a straight face that that roster has the ability to take the next step without Rudy Gay then you might also want to see Ron Artest’s psychiatrist.

Rudy Gay isn’t at the level that will take the Memphis Grizzlies to the Promised Land. At least not yet. The Grizzlies are growing as a team and Rudy Gay is growing as a player. If Memphis is ever going to make the jump from good to great they will need Rudy Gay to help get them there.

Agree? Disagree? If you have any questions, comments, suggestions, please feel free to reply in the comments section below. Or you can e-mail me at I am now on twitter follow me @paintstheblack and I will gladly return the favour.

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About Chris Ross
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9 Responses to Memphis Still Needs Rudy

  1. tophatal says:


    Well the postseason has lived up to the perceived notion as we’re already having controversies as to the officiating which you questioned when I mentioned that it’s always been inconsistent . I do feel that the Knicks are well on their way to being swept by the Celtics in their series .

    As for the Magic and the Hawks it’s the lesser of two evils with regard to both teams . The Hawks are scared of their own shadows and the Magic ….. are all too dependent upon Howard . Beyond him the rest of the team look as if they’re on life support !

    tophatal ……

  2. Robby Lim says:

    Chris thanks for visiting my site I hope we can continue supporting each other. Rudy Gay is definitely a difference maker in the series against the Spurs. However, I think Mike Conley, Tony Allen and O.J Mayo are stepping up just fine for Memphis.

    That said, I don’t think the Spurs will lose this series against the Grizzlies with our without Rudy Gay.

  3. Jamie says:

    I agree with you that Rudy Gay is an integral part of the Grizzlies and will be for the forseeable future. However, I don’t think they need him to beat the Spurs in this series. I’m not saying they will beat the Spurs, but I think that with the confidence they’re playing with right now, anything is possible (to quote Kevin Garnett).

    Also, give my (and my contributor’s) first round picks a look and see what you think!

    • Rudy is a great ballplayer, but he’s not going to be what amounts to the tipping point in this series. No way the Spurs blow this one.


    • JW says:

      The make-up of the Grizzlies is such that the presence or absence of Gay fails my “Net Difference” test. With or Without Gay, they are a bottom-end seed in the playoffs, and even if they manage to win this series, they won’t win the next one.

  4. chappy81 says:

    I was hoping Gay would be ready for the playoffs. Too bad he isn’t. I’ve been a fan of him since he played for Team USA this year. He seemed to look different and had that killer instinct your talking about at the end of games. I think he hit at least three game winners this year. I’m not sure he’d be the difference in this series, but he would not have hurt!

  5. Yes, the Grizzlies probably need Rudy Gay to get them over the hump, I guess you can say, but hey, they were impressive in both Games 1 and 2, am I right? If Zach Randolph and the rest of their young team, which is excellent by the way, with Conley, Gasol (Marc), O.J. Mayo (who’s still good, he’s not a bust, just give him time), and a few others, I see no reason why they can’t stretch this series to 6 games or even a series win.

  6. Sports Cloud says:

    Rudy Gay helps that team in my opinion. He may not improve them statistically but he does make a difference. A good example is when Manu Ginobili came back for San Antonio in game 2. San Antonio still had to struggle against Memphis but his fingerprints were all over that game. Particularly on the defensive end. Rudy Gay is like that for the Grizzlies. He’s their playmaker.

  7. trudi says:

    great article

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