When the playoffs began, nobody, I repeat nobody would’ve thought that the Memphis Grizzlies would be entering a tough game 7 against the Oklahoma City Thunder in the conference semi-finals. It seemed like mission impossible, it seemed like wishing on a star, but the fans in Memphis definitely got their wish.
All of this happened without Rudy Gay. Their young budding superstar. He and Zach Randolph were supposed to lead this team to greatness, together. They were going to be the one-two punch that would lead Memphis deep in the playoffs. Then Gay suffered a left shoulder injury against the 76ers on the 15th of February. That was the end they thought, the Memphis hopes died down, and they didn’t expect to go very far. Then they signed Shane Battier, got Tony Allen to step up on defense, got Gasol to play more aggressively in the post. When they adjusted to playing without Gay, they were back in business.
Throughout the postseason, they have been known for they’re play on the boards, their tough defense, they’re hustle for loose balls, they’re tough low post presence, and they’re hunger for winning. All of this without Gay. When Gay got injured they focused their offense more on Zach Randolph and focused their game more on defense then offense. How would they have played this postseason without Gay? There are many different vantage points we could look at it from. One, if they had Rudy Gay then they would have their offense focus on the offensive drives of Rudy Gay and the low post skill of Randolph. Which would help to spread the floor, and give the offense more options. It would also make it harder for teams to double team Z-Bo because then you have Rudy Gay wide open for a shot. If you look at it like that then they could kill teams with their offense as well as their defense. Or we could look at it like this. Rudy Gay wouldn’t put in enough effort on defense that the Grizzlies are known for. He is a strong perimeter defender, but don’t expect him to dive into the stands after a loose ball, or dive on the floor for a steal. He’s just not that type of player, but hey, not a lot of budding superstars are. With all of his playing time, then Tony Allen and Shane Battier wouldn’t play as much, therefore all those hustle plays that have helped them get this far wouldn’t have happened.
I hate hypotheticals but you have to wonder how Rudy would have effected their play in the playoffs. There is an upside and a downside. For now, good luck Grizzlies, and get better Gay.