After over a decade of wear and tear on his body, this season showed that San Antonio Spurs forward Rudy Gay isn’t going to hold up forever.
Sustaining his status as an elite scoring option for various teams throughout his career, 14-season veteran Rudy Gay finally seems to be slowing down. The 33-year-old Maryland-native inked a two-year extension to remain with the silver and black this past offseason but failed to meet that same standard he did a year ago.
In his defense, most of the team failed to meet expectations this season. With the exception of Patty Mills, most of the Spurs’ veteran players took a step back this year as the team struggled to grasp its identity or a winning record throughout the regular season. Still, Gay’s field goal percentage dropped 6.2 percent from the field and 8.8 percent from 3-point land. He was less efficient as a whole and one of the greatest appeals to re-signing him, the floor spacing, left a lot to be desired compared to last year.
Gay is a valuable member of the team who has bought into team culture since joining the silver and black in 2017. However, one’s got to wonder how much he’s got left in the tank considering his fall from grace this year—especially when taking his injury history into account.
Even if he’s not up to the same high-flying antics that he capitalized on in his days with the Memphis Grizzlies, Gay is still an effective player.
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Though it’s not much of a difference, the Spurs were 0.4 points per 100 possessions better with him on the floor this season. He also took on new challenges by slotting in as a small-ball five when the team was bitten by the injury bug before the hiatus. Six percent of his minutes logged this year were at the five-spot and a career-high 93 percent of his minutes were at the power forward. His struggles might be attributed to being willed into a new position after years of using his size advantage to pick apart his matchups.
It’s a shame that the season ended when it did because Gay was on a hot streak at the time, putting up 15.5 points and six boards in his last six games while shooting better than he had in months. For this veteran forward, it’s all about keeping his body in shape and his head in the game. Gay is a naturally talented player and a hard worker who put in a lot of hours to get to this point. He’s not going to let that slip away because he’s entering new territory.
If he continues to decline then his future with the team might be in jeopardy. Gay is making $14 million with $500k in incentives next season, which makes him extremely tradable. He has winning experience, a well-rounded skill set, and essential leadership qualities for a team hoping to contend in the playoffs.
However, that might not be in the River City if the team opts to trend younger or swap him for draft assets in the NBA Draft.