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Just The Sports: Still Overrated

Just The Sports

Monday, April 17, 2006

Still Overrated

On the day when Rudy Gay declares for the draft, I feel it is my duty to warn any unsuspecting NBA GM about the player he may foolishly be thinking of drafting. In a previous post, I addressed Rudy Gay's shooting efficiency, or inefficiency, depending on if you like Gay as a player or not. However, after re-reading the post, I was left feeling dissatisfied with the way in which I presented the information. Therefore, I am going to present the information again, but instead of merely giving you a number and sending you on your merry way, I am going to compare Gay's shooting efficiency with three players who have a reputation for taking a lot of shots during the course of a game: JJ Redick, Adam Morrison, and Kobe Bryant*.

JJ Redick's Shooting Efficiency: 1.50 points per shot
Rudy Gay's Shooting Efficiency: 1.24 points per shot

JJ Redick was basically the Duke offense this past college basketball season, averaging 26.8 ppg, 8 more points than Shelden Williams. How well he shot went a long way into determining whether or not Duke was going to win the game. What this meant was that every team Redick faced came up with a game plan to stop him and to force him to take bad shots. Despite that, though, Redick still proved to be a very efficient shooter. What is also amazing is how he proved to be so efficient even though he took the large majority of his team's shots. Redick averaged 17.9 shots per game, 6.5 more shots than the second leading shooter on the team. He was, in every sense of the word, the team's first offensive option.

Compare that to Rudy Gay who was never required to be the main offensive threat for a UConn team who shared the points among its players. In theory, this should have let Gay pick and choose his shots without having to force up bad ones. Thus, his shooting efficiency should have risen greatly, especially considering he took many more 2-point field goals than 3-point field goals. It did not.

Instead, Gay found a way to have an average shooting efficiency. He only scored 2.4 points per game more than UConn's second leading scorer, Rashad Anderson. In addition, he only took 1.9 shots per game more than Rashad Anderson, which again supports the fact that Gay was in no way the first option for the UConn offense. So why did he still manage to fumble away his scoring opportunities? Perhaps it speaks to his infuriating inconsistency, which I do not see him overcoming any time soon.

Adam Morrison's Shooting Efficiency: 1.50 points per shot
Rudy Gay's Shooting Efficiency: 1.24 points per shot

This particular comparison is no more favorable to Rudy Gay than the last one. Like JJ Redick, Adam Morrison was the number one offensive weapon for the Gonzaga Bulldogs. If anything, Morrison may have been more of his team's first option than Redick was for Duke. Morrison averaged 28.1 ppg, 8.8 more than Gonzaga's leading scorer. He also managed to take even more difficult shots than Redick. Morrison shot when he was double-teamed, when he was triple-teamed, and when he was off-balance. Sometimes he seemed as if he was deliberately not choosing to pass to his teammates. Couple that with the fact he took 8.7 more shots per game than the next Gonzaga player and it is no wonder Morrison got a bit of a reputation for being a ball hog. Still, he managed to be a more efficient shooter than Rudy Gay.

What makes this comparison a little more accurate than the one with Redick is the fact both Morrison and Gay play the small forward position. And if this shooting efficiency is any indication, Morrison was a lot better at playing the position than Gay was.

Kobe Bryant's Shooting Efficiency: 1.30 points per shot
Rudy Gay's Shooting Efficiency: 1.24 points per shot

On the surface, there does not seem to be much difference between Kobe Bryant's shooting efficiency and Rudy Gay's. Once one looks beneath the surface, it becomes apparent just how amazing it that Kobe even manages to score that many points per shot, thereby making Gay's already low shooting efficiency seem even worse. Throughout the season, nothing is more obvious than that Kobe Bryant is hellbent on making his name synoymous with ball hog and black hole. He averages a preposterous 15.6 more shots per game than his next teammate. That is 15.6 more opportunities to miss a contested jumper or an ill-timed 3-point attempt. 15.6 more opportunities to decrease his shooting efficiency. But he is still shooting better than Rudy Gay who is made to force nothing.

Kobe's saving grace, though, is the frequency with which he goes to the free throw line, averaging 10.3 free throw attempts per game. He also makes his free throws at an 84.5% rate. What should concern NBA GM's is Gay only manages 4.2 free throw attempts per game. This is probably a reflection of the low number of shots Gay takes, in comparison. It could also speak to Gay's inability to take over a game and his propensity to drift through long stretches of his games.

I only hope that whoever does draft Rudy Gay does not expect him to be a star at the NBA level, especially since he was not one at the college basketball level. I predict Gay will be a role player in the NBA. Nothing more.

*Stats courtesy of


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