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A Message for Rudy

One of the things that we have tried to do over the years on this site is to foster a sense of interest in advanced stats among casual basketball fans.  Only knowing about points, assists, rebounds and free throw percentages is no way to go through life and we wouldn't wish that upon even the worst of our enemies.  Well...maybe one or two people.

I myself try to include as much basic-level stat-geekery as possible in my posts in hopes that they can provide something a tad more objective than simply saying that Player X looks better than Player Y when talking about the latest and greatest game.  Even if no such distinction really exists, at least it makes for some fun discussion with clear parameters for everyone involved.

As long-time readers of the site know, this deference to geekery tends to color my view of who is and who isn't a good player.  I tend to favor offensively-minded efficient players who can play at least two positions and who excel in adj +/- categories.  I'd love nothing more than to see a Jason Kidd, Kevin Martin, Andrei Kirilenko, Dirk Nowitzki, Pau Gasol starting five. 

That being said, there are a few players I like simply for...well, even after looking as hard as I can at their stats, I don't have a solid case to make why I'd love to see them on my favorite squad other than that I think they simply look like they can ball like very few others.  One of these players is Rudy Gay.

I don't think there is any other human on planet earth who has won more from the basketball genetic lottery than Mr. Gay.  6'8" with a 7'3" wingspan and a nearly 9' standing reach to go along with a 40+ inch vertical and the agility of a shooting guard.  All of this in a player who is only 23 and headed into his 4th professional season.  It's absurd.

Rudy is not an efficient player.  He's not a particularly good defender. There have been questions about his effort in Memphis. Sometimes he does little more than sit out on the perimeter and wait for long jumpers.  We've all heard the knocks and we're all familiar with them.

I want the Wolves to take a run at Rudy for the following reasons:

  1. He is 23 and entering his 4th professional season.  He's right in the age wheelhouse that the Wolves need to be looking at.
  2. He has the talent and physical package to transcend a bad stat sheet, in theory.
  3. During the Olympic try outs Gay showcased the dynamic, versatile game that could (and should) make him an unguardable offensive force in the league for the next 5-6 years.  
  4. Rudy fits right into the Wolves' free agent wheel house; entering the market when most eyes are on Tier A players like LeBron and D-Wade and no one will be left with as much cash as Our Beloved Puppies to spend on players in Tier B. 

Over the course of the summer I put together a few drafts for posts that broke down Gay's stat line and potential.  Let's make one thing clear before I wrap this up: It's not like there's nothing there to look at; the guy had a very nice sophomore season and there is probably a lot to be said about the negative aspects of playing in a crappy situation like Memphis (and I do still plan on making a post where we look at what his stat sheet has to offer).  After reading these posts, they really didn't hit home with the main reason why I want the Wolves to go after Gay: It's a gamble on a player with a huge risk/reward quotient.  His upper-level fits perfectly into each and everything the Wolves are looking for: an athletic player on the wing who can excel in transition, take his defender off the dribble, make quick plays, and hit the outside shot when it comes his way.  No matter what David Kahn does or does not do in the next 2-3 years, the Wolves are still going to need some luck making it to the top.  That's just the nature of the NBA; competence gets you 45-55 wins; you need to luck into a LeBron, Kobe, Duncan, D-Wade, Shaq, or MJ to do the rest.  Gay is probably not that type of player but I'm pretty sure the Wolves aren't getting that sort of guy in the draft and I don't like their chances for a 2010 Tier A kind of guy.

Signing or trading for Gay would be a huge risk for the Wolves.  I'm not going to argue that point.  What it would also be is a home run swing for a club with 3 additional 1st rounders, cap space, Ricky Rubio, Nikola Pekovic, and a new up-tempo offense.  Let's say the Wolves can turn their 3 draft picks into someone like Evan Turner in 2010 or Harrison Barnes in 2011.  Toss in Rudy Gay and the 2 stashed Euros and suddenly you're looking at this:

  1. Rubio/Flynn/Sessions
  2. Turner/Sessions/Brewer
  3. Gay/Turner/Brewer/Gomes
  4. Love/Pekovic/Gomes/Hollins
  5. Jefferson/Pekovic/Hollins

That's a team that can go toe-to-toe with any young team in the league in terms of talent and potential.  It also has tremendous flexibility in what type of lineup you can trot out on the floor.  You could go long and defensive:

  1. Rubio
  2. Brewer
  3. Turner
  4. Jefferson
  5. Hollins

You could go up tempo and crazy:

  1. Flynn
  2. Sessions
  3. Gay
  4. Love
  5. Hollins

You could go 1/2 court pick and roll/in and out:

  1. Flynn
  2. Turner
  3. Gay
  4. Love
  5. Jefferson

You get the picture.

Anywho, I know this post is somewhat anti-climatic in terms of putting together a good argument for Rudy Gay but I really couldn't be honest with all y'all if I didn't say that there was something kind of emotional here; I want to see the Wolves swing for the fences and take a chance in free agency (or trade) on someone like Gay...or Thad Young and Danilio Gallinari....but that's a topic for another post. 

What say you?