If you read that headline and immediately didn't think to yourself, "Hey, SoV, you guys are starting to sound like a broken record," well, then you probably don't spend too much time around these parts.
Far too much space has been wasted on this site alone trying to figure out what it is that Rudy Gay sees in himself to make him think he's an effective 3-point shooter -- or, really, a long jumper-shooter.
So far, through six preseason games, Gay is 3-of-15 from beyond the arc, including an 0-of-5 performance on Saturday night against the Pacers, and 1-of-9 showing over his last three games.
The evidence is clear that Gay, one of the game's top scorers -- he's averaged 19 points in each of the last five seasons, which isn't a simple task -- is better suited to taking his game closer to the basket than living outside the 3-point line and hoisting up jumpers. He's just hasn't been successful as a long-range shooter in quite some time.
Now, let's pull out the long-jumper portion of this graph:
Yeah, as you can see it hasn't been all that pretty from 16 feet and beyond. Yet, for some reason, Rudy continues to think that he has some sort of handle on his jumper. Unfortunately, what happens is he gets almost goaded into taking long jumpers -- often times at his own doing -- and we end up seeing wasted possessions.
Now, if you've watched recently, the main issue becomes the ISO jumpers. It's one thing to work the high-low game with Marc Gasol or Zach Randolph to where teams collapse and open up space for Rudy to step into a jumper, but we're seeing him try and shoot off the dribble, which is a ridiculous concept for a player whose jumper is mediocre, at best.
The absolute best of Rudy Gay is given to us in transition and when he's driving and cutting. Hands down, the best. When he's trying to work guys off the dribble and settles for long jumpers, that's where we lose him.
Look, I'm not expecting Gay to abandon his jumper altogether, but I think he needs some sort of mental adjustment. If you look at what Gay did in his second season, he was quite capable of shooting long jumpers, but what the problem seems to be today is that Gay is taking "worse" shot attempts -- more off the dribble? More contested? Less fluid?
I can speak for what I'm actually seeing, and answer yes to all three of those questions, but I don't have the data to say that he's taking 'x' more jumpers off the dribble today than he was five years ago. But, there is something to be said about the fact that he's seeing his shot get blocked nearly twice as many times now than he was in 2008. In fact, as his most efficient season saw (2008), he was only getting his shot blocked 3.4 percent of the time. Now, in three of the last four seasons, he had his shot blocked at least 6.0 percent of the time -- his injured 2010 season being the only one in which he was blocked fewer than 6.0 percent of the time.
Again, I can't go shot-for-shot or block-for-block here, but the trend reads that Gay is more than likely taking the more contested jumpers, as opposed to kicking and waiting for open looks.
My final word here is this: if he can recognize his game, he'll elevate himself into one of the league's most productive scorers. If, though, he continues to take the more hand-in-your-face "proactive" approach to scoring -- i.e., long, contested jumpers -- he's going to remain idle as a good, not great scorer.
Recognize the game, Rudy, and I have to believe that with that recognition becomes a more effective, less stress-inducing outcome.