San Antonio Spurs: Rudy Gay’s bubble performance was underrated
Much has been said about the San Antonio Spurs’ impressive play in the Orlando bubble, but forward Rudy Gay hasn’t received enough credit for his play.
Every available player for the San Antonio Spurs had to play their part in the Orlando restart. They weren’t quite able to make up for their early-season woes, but the silver and black gave it their all and set the tempo for this group moving forward. None of that would’ve been possible without the superb reinvigoration of veteran forward Rudy Gay.
After failing to meet standards throughout the regular season, Gay returned to form during his seven games in the bubble. Playing just 24.8 minutes per game in that span, Gay averaged 17.9 points, 5.7 rebounds and 1.3 steals while shooting 46.8 percent from the field and 45.7 percent from 3-point land. There aren’t many players who can make the most of their time as Rudy did.
The scoring output is the first aspect of Gay’s performance to highlight, but there’s a lot more to it. Gay shot 33.6 percent from deep on the season as a whole but entered the NBA restart with a brand new lease on life. He was agile and mobile as ever, moving around the court with the grace and swagger that Spurs fans became accustomed to last season.
.@RudyGay scored double-figures off the bench in 13 straight games this season, the longest streak in a season in franchise history.#GoSpursGo pic.twitter.com/h94tmIy8Ic
— San Antonio Spurs (@spurs) August 17, 2020
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Taking five triples per game, Gay nailed his jumpers from just about every spot on the court off of the catch-and-shoot as well as off the dribble. He worked well in team sets, moving the ball and taking smart shots within the flow of the offense. However, Gay was always there to buy a bucket when the silver and black needed him to, setting the tone for his younger teammates.
Between his sunny disposition, on-court intensity, incredible work ethic and inspiring workout habits, Gay is a high-quality veteran. He took a step back defensively this season but seemed very engaged as a perimeter defender and weakside shot-blocker in Orlando. That time away from the game served him well, allowing the 34-year-old to get his mind and body prepared for the competition.
This was a stretch of redemption for Gay, who failed to meet the standards set for himself through the early portion of the season. His finals season averages won’t reflect it, but the version of Rudy that we saw at the end of the season was drastically better than the version we saw before the NBA season was suspended.
Hopefully, it’s a sign of things to come as Gay enters the final year of his contract with the Spurs.