Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Rudy Gay Soaring with the Stars

By now many people are probably aware that the Grizzlies are not a very good team this year. Promising for sure but not a winning program today.

But the future is looking bright for the Grizzlies. Juan Carlos Navarro is only 10 3 pt shots made from tying the rookie NBA record for 3 point shots made as a rookie. He is achieving this while playing fewer minutes per game and shooting from a 3 pt line that is further from the basket than the line Kerry Kittles set the record from.

Mike Conley is leading all rookies in assists and was just one point shy of his career high in scoring against the Phoenix Suns Tuesday night. Kyle Lowry has become one of the best backup point guards in the league. Hakim Warrick has averaged Pau like numbers at power forward and even Darko Milicic has shown flashes of becoming the center the team will need to take the next step toward the playoffs.

But all of his pales when compared to Rudy Gay. Rudy Gay is about to join an elite club of players currently in the NBA. With four games remaining on the schedule Rudy needs to score a mere 52 points (13 ppg) to insure that he will average 20 ppg in only his 2nd season. Since 2004 only LeBron James, Dwayne Wade and Carmello Anthony averaged at least 20 ppg their second season in the league.

Not bad company for a 21 yr old.

But why cut off the date in 2004? In 2003 only Amare Stoudamire accomplished that feat. In 2002 not one 2nd year player reached the 20 pt plateau. No one did in 2001 either. So since the 2000 draft there have only been 4 players who have accomplished this feat and they are all considered elite if not superstar players.

So where does that put Rudy? Well. nowhere yet but last night's career high tying 36 pt effort was achieved with a dynamic 16 point 4th quarter that nearly brought the Grizzlies back to life. Against Minnesota Rudy scored 11 pts in the final quarter against Minnesota. And who can forget the best play of the season when Rudy beat the Spurs and Tim Duncan with that last second 3 pt shot?

Ladies and gentlemen, meet your closer.

Rudy is not scoring the Pau Gasol plastic points in the first 3 quarters only to disappear in the 4th. Rudy is stepping up in crunch time, demanding the ball and imposing his will on the outcome.

That is what people have wanted for 7 years in Memphis.

Memphis' loss also puts them back in the top 4 worst records in the league thanks to New York's upset over Detroit. Throw on top the Portland win over LA and it was a pretty good night on paper at least for the Grizzlies.

If Memphis can finally catch a break and get a superstar in the draft to pair with Gay they could be in super shape for the future. Now notice that I didn't say win the lottery. That is beyond our control but the Grizzlies with Chris Wallace can win the draft even if they don't win the lottery. This draft is very even talent-wise. Someone is going to establish themselves in the NBA that isn't a top 2 pick.

Heisley's plan of rebuilding with a 3-5 year horizon may not be so far fetched.

Saturday night is Fan Appreciation Night at the Forum. Wouldn't it be nice if the fans showed the team they appreciate them too.

BallHype: hype it up!


NancyW said...

I'm thankful that Jerry West had the foresight to acquire Rudy who I consider to be an emerging superstar.

This morning Rick Kamla of NBA TV was raving about Rudy, saying that his pick for Most Improved Player is none other than our own Rudy Gay. I hope that a player from small market Memphis can win such an award.

Commadoor Sixty-four said...

I can't believe that the Grizz marketing gurus aren't putting his face on everything.

Someone contact Dinstuhl's about making some Gay fudge....

(I apologize)