Rudy Gay is a certain kind of hero

Rudy Gay hits one of his two game-winners since coming to Toronto.

The Raptors are 5-2 since Rudy Gay came to town, having beaten the Clippers, Pacers, Nuggets and Knicks. There is real reason for optimism — Toronto usually plays hard, plays together and play an athletic, uptempo style that’s easy on the eyes.

To what degree is Rudy Gay responsible for this success? Well, he’s hit two game-winners, including an ice-cold one-dribble pull-up over Corey Brewer on Tuesday night.

But the Raptors are also shooting very well from 3, something Rudy Gay has not directly contributed to because he’s shooting 38 percent from the field and just 18 percent from 3.

The starters’ defense is strong; you can see how such rangy and quick players could smother the court. It’s especially effective compared to the second unit which lost Ed Davis and added John Lucas III in place of Kyle Lowry.

It’s just hard to say exactly how much help Gay is providing. He’s shooting a ton and not very accurately. But with his great size and skill, he can get off a reasonably decent shot in a one-on-one situation, and that talent has made him into the closer that Toronto believes it needs. But would the Raptors be in those tough end of game situations if Gay made more shots during the other 47 minutes?

Those one-on-one pullups are shot that no player makes consistently, but, just as he did in Memphis, Gay takes them with alarming frequency throughout the game. And judging by how well Gay shoots the rest of the game, we shouldn’t expect him to come through in the clutch even half of the time.

I count myself among the many who hoped Rudy Gay could blossom in Toronto. Freed from playing alongside two other post players, the thinking went, Gay could become the efficient inside-out threat his strong post game and all-around skills suggest he might one day be.

But to my eyes, he’s been a low-efficiency volume shooter who’s been fortunate enough to make the most visible shot in two close games. This doesn’t mean he can’t change or grow in Toronto, and I’m hoping for his success. It’s just that being a team’s savior is about so much more than rescuing the game with that final shot — it’s about preventing that danger in the first place.


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