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 cross_can15@hotmail.com. I am now on twitter follow me @paintstheblack and I will gladly return the favour.

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