Sacramento has a new sheriff, and he goes by the name of Rudy Gay. The small forward can light you up in a duel, but the West has no shortage of challengers.
Here’s how Rudy Gay compares with the starting threes in the Pacific Division.
*MPG = minutes per game, PPG = points per game, APG, assists per game, RPG = rebounds per game, SPG = steals per game, TPG = turnovers per game, PER = player efficiency rating
**Statistics in italics are Pacific Division leaders.
Rudy Gay – SAC
Career stats: 35.9 MPG, 18.2 PPG, 2.1 APG, 5.8 RPG, 1.4 SPG, 2.4 TPG, 16.4 PER
2013-14 stats (TOR/SAC): 34.7 MPG, 20.0 PPG, 2.9 APG, 6.0 RPG, 1.3 SPG, 3.1 TPG, 18.3 PER
Outlook: A December 9 trade from the Toronto Raptors breathed new life into Gay, whose inefficient scoring north of the border made him a scapegoat for the team’s struggles. The nine-year veteran showed with the Kings he can dribble and drive to the rim at ease, create separation and drain midrange looks, and line up a set 3. Gay’s 7-foot-3 wingspan helps him reach around opponents for layups, but it hasn’t yet translated into the disruptive, impact defender he should be.
Matt Barnes – LAC
Career stats: 22.4 MPG, 7.9 PPG, 1.7 APG, 4.5 RPG, 0.7 SPG, 1.2 TPG, 13.4 PER
2013-14 stats: 27.5 MPG, 9.9 PPG, 2.0 APG, 4.6 RPG, 0.9 SPG, 1.3 TPG, 12.0 PER
Outlook: As gritty as they come, Barnes sets aside personal accolades for the sake of victories. The journeyman earns his paystub by harassing wings and bodying them up with his physicality, while he’s also consistent at banging open jumpers. Barnes contributes in every little way, but 34-years-old, the clock on his career is ticking.
Andre Iguodala – GSW
Career stats: 37.0 MPG, 14.6 PPG, 4.9 APG, 5.7 RPG, 1.7 SPG, 2.3 TPG, 16.7 PER
2013-14 stats: 32.4 MPG, 9.3 PPG, 4.2 APG, 4.7 RPG, 1.5 SPG, 1.6 TPG, 13.7 PER
Outlook: Iguodala is the gold standard of perimeter lockdown men, so valuable in the role the Warriors make it his sole focus. The 30-year-old’s jump shot comes and goes, but he remains a fearsome slasher and can rise above the rim when necessary. Yet none of this matters when the expensive guard/forward can eliminate the opponent’s best player.
Wesley Johnson – LAL
Career stats: 24.7 MPG, 8.1 PPG, 1.3 APG, 3.3 RPG, 0.7 APG, 1.1 TPG, 10.0 PER
2013-14 stats: 28.4 MPG, 9.1 PPG, 1.6 APG, 4.4 RPG, 1.1 SPG, 1.1 TPG, 11.0 PER
Outlook: The Minnesota Timberwolves draft bust picked ahead of DeMarcus Cousins has found a niche and home with the Los Angeles Lakers, in what seems to be a mutually desperate relationship. The lanky 6-foot-7 swingman has struggled to put the ball in the basket his entire career (40.8 percent from the floor), but extended minutes last season led to highs in field goal percentage (42.5 percent) and 3-point accuracy (36.9). It’s clear that Johnson is still learning NBA nuances and the Lakers seem willing to deal with his growing pains.
P.J. Tucker – PHO
Career stats: 25.3 MPG, 7.3 PPG, 1.4 APG, 5.1 RPG, 1.0 SPG, 1.0 TPG, 12.5 PER
2013-14 stats: 30.7 MPG, 9.4 PPG, 1.7 APG, 6.5 RPG, 1.4 SPG, 1.3 TPG, 13.3 PER
Outlook: Tucker is a riches-to-rags-to-riches story, parlaying two strong seasons in Phoenix into a three-year, $16.5 million contract after fizzling out of the NBA a year after being drafted in 2006 and later playing for seven international teams. Tucker’s bread and butter is working out of the post, hitting cutters or making his own fadeaways. The 6-foot-5 wing has 3-point range and he’s a formidable stopper and rebounder too.
Not your typical crop of small forwards. Where do you rank Gay?
Statistical data provided by basketball-reference.com