The Toronto Raptors have gone through a rough past few seasons, but do have some buzz surrounding them as they enter the 2013 NBA season. With a talented all-around roster including Demar DeRozan, Kyle Lowry, Terrence Ross, and more, they could look to improve off of last season. Their #1 player heading into this season is without a doubt Rudy Gay.
Gay was acquired in a big deal last season from the Grizzlies, and immediately produced for the Raptors. During his 33-game stint with the Raptors last season, he averaged 19.5 points, 6.4 rebounds, and 2.8 assists per game. He is also known for being one of the top perimeter defenders in the NBA, and averaged 1.7 steals per game as well. With his length and athleticism, he’s going to be the key defensive player to guard the opposing teams’ best wings this season for the Raptors.
Toronto will also ask a lot out of Gay on the offensive side of the court this season. They have a couple other solid players in Lowry and DeRozan that can create their own shot and score at a high level, but Gay is by far their best offensive threat. He has a great mid-range game, and a developing three-point shot as well. He shot just under 34% from behind the three-point arc with the Raptors, but according to reports this off-season he’s been working exceptionally hard on that facet of his game. If he’s able to become a more dangerous threat from beyond the arc, the opposing defenses will have a much harder job containing him.
One area that he definitely needs to show improvement in, would be his play-making ability. His ball-handling is questionable, and with him being the go to guy for the Raptors, they’ll need him to find ways to get his teammates involved as well. Once he’s capable of distributing the ball at a high level, it will add yet another aspect to his game that defenders have to respect.
You can expect to see a much improved Rudy Gay this season, especially on the offensive side of the basketball. He’s had an entire off-season to work on his game knowing that he’s going to be the Raptors’ go to guy. In Memphis, he had Marc Gasol, Zach Randolph, Mike Conley, and before he left for Dallas O.J. Mayo as well. Those guys create a very impressive supporting cast around Gay. Toronto doesn’t have anything close to that kind of a supporting cast, and Gay knows it.
Overall, this season should be a big one for Rudy Gay. He’s going to be asked to step into a major leadership role, and play accordingly. Expect his scoring numbers to increase from the 19.5 per game that he averaged last year, and his assist numbers to go up as well. There are reasons to be optimistic that the Raptors will be a competitive team this year. They likely won’t compete for a Playoff spot, but they also won’t be a pushover like they have been in the past.