The Fast Break: Rudy Gay continues to divide the basketball world
Over the last couple of years, no player has divided the basketball world in the battle of advanced stats/efficiency based metrics supporters versus traditionalist iso-ball lovers quite like Rudy Gay.
The Grizzlies got better without Gay and his ball-stopping ways, proclaim the efficiency based followers, advancing to the Conference Finals for the first time in franchise history. The Grizzlies now have no chance of winning a championship because they lack a "go-to scorer" who can hit clutch shots late in games, reply misguided traditionalists.
On Monday night in Houston, Gay fired up the debate again. One side saw 29 points, 10 rebounds, four steals, two assists and a block in his third double-double of the young season, not to mention that clutch three-pointer he hit to force a second overtime. The other side saw an inexcusable 37 field goal attempts despite the fact that he was shooting horribly last night (11-of-37) and on the season (49-of-142), and an abysmal decision on a predictable isolation play at the end of regulation that could have prevented the game from even going to overtime. They also see 12 assists to 18 turnovers through eight games.
During and after the game, twitter erupted with people bashing Gay's game in Houston and his general strategy on the offensive end, but it also erupted after he hit that game-tying three, with fans referencing how "clutch" he is. Raptors coach Dwane Casey said post-game that Gay "had it going," while Raptors color analyst (and former NBA-er) Leo Rautins made a complimentary comment about Gay "not being afraid to take big shots."
My issue with all of this is that there's really nothing "advanced" to figure out. This isn't basic stats versus PER, Win Shares or Regularly Adjusted Plus/Minus, which include advanced formulas to decipher. We're simply talking about a guy who took 37 shots to score 29 points, a guy who thought it was a good idea to take 37 shots despite the fact that he's been converting at a sub-35 percent clip so far this season and was struggling mightily in the game in question, a guy who thought dribbling for 20 seconds and then pulling up for a long two-pointer - the least efficient shot in basketball - was in his team's best interests with the game on the line.
Sure, he hit the boards (as he has done all season) and did some other things to avoid being a complete waste of space on the floor, but how can you in your right basketball mind defend that performance with "double-double!" or "clutch shot!" or by complimenting him on having the 'guts' to take all of those shots? It seems to me it's those fans, the 'advanced' stats haters, who are actually making these numbers more complicated than they need to be.
Gay is better than this and his shooting can't possibly continue at such a putrid rate, but he's also not nearly as good as fans who put stock in raw points scored, 'clutchness' and 'guts' think he is, and there's nothing that needs to be said to defend the horror show we saw from him last night.
Now before I get to the rest of last night's action, I leave you with some more reaction from media and fans:
About last night...
Pacers 95, Grizzlies 79 - Lance Stephenson's triple-double (13 points, 12 assists, 11 rebounds) helped the Pacers get to 8-0.
Spurs 109, 76ers 85 - The Sixers fall to .500 for the first time and I'd bet they don't get back above .500 at all this season. In fact this may be the last time they're even at .500.
Bulls 96, Cavaliers 81 - Derrick Rose left the game in the fourth quarter with a hamstring strain.
Rockets 110, Raptors 104 (2-OT) - Gay and DeMar DeRozan combined to shoot 17-of-62 for Toronto. 17-of-62.
Nuggets 100, Jazz 81 - With some other tanking teams off to surprising starts, Utah's 0-8 mark really gives them a head start in the race to the bottom.
Clippers 109, Timberwolves 107 - Nikola Pekovic and Kevin Love each missed put-backs for the tie in the dying seconds.
Line of the night: Dwight Howard - 18 Pts (7/12 FG, 4/12 FT), 24 Reb, 5 Blk, 2 Ast, 1 Stl, 3 TO in 45 mins.
Play of the night:
On tap tonight: Just four games on the schedule tonight - Bucks/Heat, Wizards/Mavericks, Pistons/Warriors and Pelicans/Lakers. The two late games, at Golden State and L.A., are the ones that stand out to me.
Rose is fine: I mentioned above that Rose left last night's victory over the Cavs with a hamstring strain, but Rose thinks he'll be ready for Chicago's next game on Friday night in Toronto. Given how rusty the former MVP has looked after a year-and-a-half out of action, the last thing he needs is more time away from the court.
Nash out: The Lakers will be without Steve Nash for at least two weeks after he was diagnosed with nerve root irritation in his back and hamstring. Kobe Bryant potentially looking like a different player when he returns would be sad, but right now, nothing is sadder in the NBA than watching a clearly aging and broken down Nash.
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