The San Antonio Spurs have hit a recent skid after a hot start, and it’s no coincidence that they are struggling without Rudy Gay in the lineup.
The San Antonio Spurs began the year 6-2 behind some fantastic play from DeMar DeRozan and LaMarcus Aldridge, but Rudy Gay has been an underrated contributor in the Spurs’ early success.
Gay didn’t play very well last season in his first year back from a season-ending Achilles injury, but he’s off to a great start this season as he has looked healthier through his first eight games.
The 32-year-old forward is averaging 13.3 points and 7.9 rebounds per game while shooting a balmy 56.3% from three-point land.
That level of three-point shooting is probably unsustainable over a whole season. However, he has shot 34.5% from three during his career so he should continue to be an above-average shooter from deep, which is much-needed on a team that doesn’t feature many consistent outside shooters.
He’s also been disruptive on the defensive end of the floor with 1.1 steals in 28 minutes per game, and Gay is probably San Antonio’s most reliable wing defender while Dejounte Murray recovers from his torn ACL.
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Gay has been battling nagging heel injuries ever since he tore his Achilles two years ago, and those issues popped up again during the beginning of this month.
The former UConn Husky has missed the past three games with an injured heel in which the Spurs have gone 1-2, including losses to the Magic and Heat who are both below .500.
The on-court/off-court splits haven’t been stark with Rudy Gay in or out of the lineup this year, but the Spurs were +2.5 when he was on the floor last year and -0.7 when he was on the bench.
With San Antonio’s lack of depth on the wing this season, the Spurs need Gay to stay healthy and remain a key contributor on both ends of the floor.
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Gay is expected to make his return from a three-game absence on Monday night against the Kings, and San Antonio should get a major boost with one of their key veterans back in the lineup.