Looking Deeper Into the Rudy Gay Trade

Posted on February 1, 2013 | No Comments

In my comments section of my initial post about the Rudy Gay deal, I wondered where the Raptor analytics consultant, Alex Rucker, was during this trade. I wondered because I really can’t see him endorsing this deal. Kinnon Yee, over at RaptorsHQ wrote a good article comparing the advanced stats of the players involved in the deal. In his article, Yee shoots down the notion that the Raptors are getting a player who will help the Raptors in the clutch any more than the ones that left town.

It’s not just clutch situations that aren’t all that kind to Rudy Gay. For Raptor fans hoping that this is going to be their version of trading for James Harden, I have some bad news. The thing about Harden was that he had fantastic advanced stats in Oklahoma. He had a 21.1 PER his last season with the Thunder. An out of this world, .660 True Shooting Percentage (5th in the entire league), the best Offensive Rating among all Thunder rotation players, and his Win Share per 48 minutes, of .230, was tied for first on the team with Kevin Durant and tied for 4th in the league.

While Houston obviously used advanced stats when making their decision about whether or not to trade for Harden (and offer him the near-max extension), it’s also obvious that Toronto ignored advanced stats when trading for Gay.

While Harden was obviously being underused in Oklahoma City, due to the presence of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, Gay actually had the highest Usage Percentage on Memphis this year and was their leading scorer.

Despite that, Gay’s Win Share per 48 minutes is actually lower than both Ed Davis and Jose Calderon. In fact, Calderon’s career average is higher than any season by Rudy Gay.

Gay’s True Shooting Percentage, this season, is slightly behind Andrea Bargnani‘s, and while it is a career low, his career percentage of .526 is decent, at best.

His Rebounding Percentage is lower than Kyle Lowry‘s, so rebounding is obviously not a strength with him despite his physical gifts.

And while he’s not a bad defender, the best compliment I’ve read about him on that end is that he’s average.

I think it speaks volumes that Colangelo traded away two of the Raptors with the best advanced stats for a player with worse advanced stats.

Daniel Leroux, at RealGM, wrote something about Gay that I thought was brilliant. He wrote that those that like this deal for Toronto (in which he gave Memphis and Detroit A’s and Toronto a D+) are more in love with the IDEA of Rudy Gay, than the actual Rudy Gay himself.

Jay Bilas described him thusly right after he was drafted…

“Incredibly athletic, he’s 6-foot-9, he’s got really long arms, a wingspan of about 7-foot-3, he plays bigger than he is, he’s got every skill, every piece of ability you would want in a player.”

It’s not hard to see the attraction. The problem is that Gay is relatively the same player now as when he was drafted six and a half years ago.

In my last post, I wrote that the idea of playing Gay, DeMar DeRozan and Andrea Bargnani together was a recipe for disaster. It’s been suggested that Bargnani may be on his way out in Toronto, with Colangelo going on record that he had been looking at trading options for him. Personally, I will only believe that when I see it. Especially with him having a bad year and being injured. I wouldn’t be surprised in the least to see the starting lineup of Kyle Lowry, DeRozan, Gay, Bargnani and Jonas Valanciunas to finish up the year.

I think a lot of what happens after the season depends on how the rest of the season goes. If Colangelo is able to keep his job, it will be interesting to see who he favours. Will he still do whatever he can to keep Bargnani? Will he try and build around Gay, an experiment that might by him a few more years, the way he tried to build around Chris Bosh and then Bargnani? And would he really expect any different results?

Colangelo has always made it fairly obvious who his “guys” were. Bargnani was obviously one of his guys. He targeted him in the draft, and while Bargnani didn’t start, he was groomed from day one.

Same goes for DeMar DeRozan, who’s name was brought up early before the draft and it was obvious that was who Colangelo wanted. He started from day one despite never actually earning the starting position, because Colangelo wanted to guarantee him minutes.

Even Jonas Valanciunas was groomed from the start, although he at least looks like he has the potential to be an All Star.

On the other hand, Ed Davis was apparently not the guy Colangelo wanted, but basically the guy he felt he had to take because the guys he wanted were gone. And Davis has had a tough time getting consistent minutes in his three years as a Raptor.

And then there’s Jose Calderon. Calderon wasn’t a guy Colangelo brought it. He was signed by Rob Babcock, in what was probably his only good move. Colangelo brought in T.J. Ford, Jarrett Jack and  Jerryd Bayless to replace him and none could. He tried to trade him at least once. Then he traded for Kyle Lowry, which everyone thought would be the final straw for Calderon. And in the end it was, but not because Lowry beat him out for the starting position, but because Colangelo realized that the only way he could replace Calderon, is if he shipped Calderon out.

So after nearly 8 years as a Raptor, Calderon is gone. And it’s a shame that Colangelo never really seemed to “get” what made Calderon such a good PG. And the fact that he never seemed to get it speaks volumes. He values guys like Bargnani and DeRozan and now Gay. Inefficient offensive players who bring little else to the table but scoring and don’t make their teammates better.

Colangelo never realized it wasn’t his PG he needed to replace, but the players around him.

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