Rudy Gay’s first season with the San Antonio Spurs was anything but ordinary.
Injuries bothered Gay and the Spurs throughout the year and the drama surrounding Kawhi Leonard lingered over the team all season. This year, Gay will return to the Spurs and it will be, once again, anything but ordinary.
This years team looks very different from that of seasons past. In year two, Gay will be looked at to lead his new teammates in a tough Western Conference.
Gay spent much of the 2017-18 season adjusting to his new team and his new role as a bench contributor. He did this while continuing to recover and move on from a terrible Achilles tendon tear. It wasn’t easy for him. His 11.5 points per game was the second lowest of his career and the lowest since his rookie season.
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In typical Spurs fashion, Gay was actually more efficient last season than he had been throughout most of his career. His fit in the Spurs small-ball lineup as a rangy power forward helped San Antonio keep up with the quicker teams in the conference.
Gay showed up to camp in vastly better shape than last year. He’s elevating better and is moving much more comfortably than a year ago. That’s what happens when you can dedicate a full off-season to just basketball as opposed to rehabbing.
It’s a good thing Gay looks as fluid as he does. On a team lacking in scoring options Gay will be looked at to contribute early and often, either as a starter or as a sixth man. Look for Gay to return to his role as a small-ball four this season. A lineup featuring Dejounte Murray, Marco Belinelli, DeMar Derozan, Gay and LaMarcus Aldridge looks like it could be the one the Spurs use to close out games. The NBA as a whole is getting faster. Having a rangy floor spacer like Gay is almost a necessity for any team looking to keep up with the rest of the league late in games.
Rudy leads the squad with a game-high 11 PTS!
— San Antonio Spurs (@spurs) September 30, 2018
If his regular season play is an extension of his pre-season performance then the Spurs will be in a great spot. Gay finished San Antonio’s first pre-season game against the Miami Heat as the teams leading scorer with 13 points. He would also go 3-for-3 from behind the arc. Let’s hope that strong shooting performance carries over.
Rudy Gay had a little fun with DeMar DeRozan before today's game, DeRozan's 1st NBA home game outside Canada: "I asked him if he was preparing for the Canadian national anthem. He was lining up. I said, ‘We don’t do that here, brother.’ This is as American as you can get.”
— Jeff McDonald (@JMcDonald_SAEN) October 1, 2018
Gay will also play an important role in ways that won’t show up in the box score. He is joined this season by his former teammate and close friend, DeMar DeRozan. Having a friend and teammate to help ease the adjustment to a new organization and a new city should pay dividends on and off the court for DeRozan. On a team with many new and young faces, Gay will also be looked to as a veteran to help lead this new Spurs team.
In his first season with San Antonio, Gay experienced post-season basketball for only the second time in his career. In his second year he will be counted on to help lead San Antonio back to the playoffs.
Rudy Gay is back in the Alamo City and he’s hungry for a chance to prove that the Spurs are still one of the best teams in the Western Conference.