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San Antonio Spurs: What to expect from Rudy Gay’s preseason debut

By Rob Wolkenbrod
SACRAMENTO, CA - OCTOBER 29: Rudy Gay #8 of the Sacramento Kings speaks with media after the game against the Minnesota Timberwolves on October 29, 2016 at Golden 1 Center in Sacramento, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2016 NBAE (Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images)
SACRAMENTO, CA - OCTOBER 29: Rudy Gay #8 of the Sacramento Kings speaks with media after the game against the Minnesota Timberwolves on October 29, 2016 at Golden 1 Center in Sacramento, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2016 NBAE (Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images)
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Rudy Gay will make his San Antonio Spurs debut in Friday night’s preseason game. What can be expected out of him in his first game since January?

On Thursday, according to ESPN’s Michael C. Wright, Gregg Popovich announced that Rudy Gay will make his San Antonio Spurs debut in Friday’s preseason game, against the Sacramento Kings at the AT&T Center. It comes four days after the first preseason game in Sacramento, where Gay last played basketball in January.

Wright noted the Spurs have been conservative with Gay’s minutes, which may come into play on Friday. That goes along with Popovich’s comments on wanting to be conservative with his use.

If that’s the case, then not much should be expected out of the 11-year pro in the home preseason opener.

Look for a limited amount of minutes for Gay on Friday, maybe between 10 and 15. It’s a light load for his first game back, especially in a meaningless game. The Spurs should not want to overwork him in an exhibition, so the fewer minutes he receives, the better.

Rudy Gay preseason revenge game!

— Michael Gallagher (@MikeSGallagher) October 5, 2017

Popovich also needs to find Gay’s strength in the rotation, which will not happen overnight. He can be deployed at small forward or power forward, with the latter a unique role. It likely comes as a stretch four, something the UConn product hasn’t been for most of his career.

When the season arrives and Kawhi Leonard gets healthy, Gay could get most of his minutes at the stretch four. Time at the three will obviously be limited, since Leonard will take up between 30-35 minutes. So it could be an adjustment to start the season.

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For Friday night, the Spurs can test him in smaller lineups, if Popovich feels comfortable enough to try this. If not and the conservative approach continues, then look for Gay to take his standard small forward role and play behind Kyle Anderson.

This situation goes beyond playing time, however. It’s the first game action for Gay since suffering the ruptured Achilles in January. That means he’s about to dive into live play in a non-controlled environment, unlike Spurs training camp. Will the necessary athleticism be there to defend? How about creating offense? That’s difficult to speculate on since no one has seen him play basketball for the past 10 months.

Next: Spurs 2017-18 season preview

Spurs fans will see Gay don the Silver and Black on Friday, Oct. 6 at 8:30 p.m. ET. What are your expectations for his debut?

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