The knock on Rudy Gay from the analytics crowd has been that he’s a ball stopper.
That critique was around during Gay’s time with the Memphis Grizzlies but became prevalent during his stint with the Toronto Raptors, when his shooting percentage plummeted and he was at his most inefficient offensively.
Memphis coach Dave Joerger was an assistant when Gay played for the Grizzlies and sees a different player from the one who was Grizzly.
“He’s taking his time with the basketball and not holding it,” said Joerger before the Kings played the Grizzlies on Thursday at FedExForum. “He knows what he wants with each catch, which is good for him. In his younger years, he kind of didn’t know what to do with it, so with the dribble he went sideways a lot.”
Gay entered Thursday averaging 22.8 points, 7.3 rebounds and 3.4 assists, all above his career averages.
The assists are key for Sacramento.
“He’s so talented offensively that his challenge is to be more than a one-dimensional player, not just a scorer,” said Kings coach Michael Malone. “He has the ability to create for himself, create for his teammates, and he’s going to draw a crowd.”
Gay matched his career high with eight assists in Tuesday’s loss at Dallas, but he also matched his career high with seven turnovers.
Joerger sees Gay being more decisive offensively.
“Now he’s more precise in going north and south, one or two dribbles,” Joerger said. “He knows that if he gathers his dribble, once he picks it up and gets over you, there’s nothing you can do about it. He jumps well, he’s long and he has a great sense of timing.”
Rookie watch – As Ben McLemore has started shooting better, Sacramento’s other shooting guard is still sorting things out.
Rookie Nik Stauskas entered Thursday shooting 31.3 percent from the field and 23.8 percent from three-point range.
“It’s a typical rookie (season),” Malone said. “It’s a roller coaster; you’re up and you’re down.”
After scoring nine points and being praised for his defense last Friday in a win at Phoenix, Stauskas went scoreless the next two games.
“He’s just got to maintain his mental toughness,” Malone said. “Know that we all believe in him 100 percent and, as he sees that ball go in as Ben has lately, he’ll get that confidence.”
Malone said he needs to make sure plays are called to help Stauskas get open to shoot and create for teammates.
Welcome back – Darren Collison was back in the starting lineup for the Kings after missing Tuesday’s loss because of stiffness in his left shoulder.
Malone was looking for a defensive boost from Collison.
“Our defense the last two games has taken a big step backward,” Malone said. “So, hopefully having Darren back, he’ll also get us back on the ball and contain and keep guards out the paint.”