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Rudy Gay had eye surgery this offseason to correct vision problems

Jul 22, 2013, 8:29 PM EST

Rudy Gay

What makes Rudy Gay divisive is simply he is not a good shooter.

He puts up points — career average of 18 a game and 19.5 with the Raptors at the end of last season — but he’s a career 45 percent shooter who hit just 42.5 percent with the Raptors. He shot 32.3 percent from three last season. He attacks the rim and shot 54.7 percent in the restricted area last season, but he took most of his shots (411 total) in the midrange and shot just 36 percent on those. He also took 217 threes above the break (not corner threes) and shot just 34 percent on them. His shot couldn’t space the floor, which is what Memphis needed.

He can create his own shot and he scores a lot, but he doesn’t do it efficiently. That makes him divisive — old-school guys love his shot creation, new school guys can’t stand the wasted possessions. Fact is Grizzlies offense got demonstrably better when his shots last season were redistributed to Marc Gasol, Zach Randolph and Mike Conley. Bottom line to me is with Gay they don’t get to the conference Finals, they were better without him.

But maybe part of the reason Gay had trouble with his shot is he couldn’t see. There had been reports out of Canada he was considering goggles for next season, but instead he had surgery, he confirmed to Adam Figman at SLAM (via Ball Don’t Lie).

One advantage he’ll have heading into next season: He recently had an operation to correct the vision in one of his eyes, an issue that was first reported back in March in the National Post. “I did have vision problems,” Gay confesses, sitting up on the trainer’s table after Gray finishes stretching out his muscles. “Actually, it was terrible. I could hardly get my license.” The National Post reported that he refused to wear the contact lenses he desperately needed, which was correct: “I have a stigma about that stuff—I can’t put anything up my nose and I can’t touch my eyes. I think that just comes from me growing up seeing people on drugs—I got over my stigma of needles, but I couldn’t do any of that other stuff. I couldn’t wear contacts. I wore glasses, sometimes.”

Gay finally had the operation to clear up his sight early this summer. “It wasn’t even a regular operation,” he explains. “It was some kind of crazy operation that took a lot more time to heal than I thought. It sucked. They had to patch it up [after], and I had to take eye drops, all stuff that I hated. But I had to do it. It’s crazy because as much work as I’m putting in working on my shot, if I come back shooting [a better] percent from the three-point line, everybody’s gonna say it’s ’cause of my vision, not the hard work I’m putting in.”

Maybe a little from Column A, a little from Column B. Hard work never hurt.

Gay’s shot creation is a better fit in Toronto than Memphis (where more efficient options existed, and Gay didn’t help because defenders wouldn’t have respected his shot). But if a combination of better vision and better shot selection — plus setting guys like DeMar DeRozan and Jonas Valanciunas (who looked improved at Summer League) — could lead to an improved Raptors team.

We’ll see. At least Gay will see more clearly.

  1. shockexchange - Jul 22, 2013 at 8:33 PM

    Whatever happened to glasses?

  2. 00maltliquor - Jul 22, 2013 at 9:00 PM

    Kurty, you stay on that bull hit about with Gay, they wouldn’t have made the Conference Finals.

    Got it backwards. With Gay they wouldn’t have got swept. IDC about advanced statistics (well, I do, but this is a different scenario), regular season and playoffs are two different animals. Gay was the slasher/shot creator to the two bigs down low who can score in the post and hit a mid-ranger. You had Conley the set up artist/3 ball and your defensive, athletic 2 Guard Tony Allen. That was like the PERFECT team. You can’t even put together a team that perfect doing Fantasy Draft on 2K!

    Sure, Gay has flaws (who doesn’t) but at the end of the day, with the team that was in place, you had to respect him and guard him or he’ll go off. Plus for as many shots as he misses, he makes a ton in the clutch. I wish I could write more but usually I get blocked when I type this much, so I gotta keep it short.

    • 00maltliquor - Jul 22, 2013 at 9:02 PM

      …….aaaaaand whadaya know…..I got blocked^^

    • spursareold - Jul 23, 2013 at 10:17 AM

      The fact is that the best two Grizz playoff runs in the last 5 years did NOT include Gay. It’s not a coincidence when it happens twice.

    • ProBasketballPundit - Jul 23, 2013 at 10:45 AM

      The reason why Memphis got swept is because they lacked outside shooting. Rudy Gay shoots 29% beyond 16 feet and takes 8 of those shots a game. You really think he would solve their problem, genius?

  3. buffalo65 - Jul 22, 2013 at 9:23 PM

    Ladies and gentlemen, your 2014 NBA champs.

  4. asimonetti88 - Jul 22, 2013 at 9:39 PM

    I don’t know if he’s necessarily a bad shooter… but he can have questionable shot selection at times.

  5. thebigtebowski - Jul 22, 2013 at 10:21 PM

    Who acknowledges having poor vision and continues to play without addressing the issue? What an idiot.

    • mrwhiteshadez - Jul 23, 2013 at 9:41 AM

      LMAO, my thoughts exactly.

  6. danielgmz - Jul 23, 2013 at 1:11 AM

    Okay, this is getting tiring… 45% from the field is bad? Come on… and 32% I know it’s not great, but Kobe hasn’t been able to average a higher percentage than that in the past 4 seasons but I don’t see anybody calling him a bad shooter…

    • spursareold - Jul 23, 2013 at 10:19 AM

      The press never calls Kobe on anything. Then again, if Gay had five rings, there would be little or no criticism of his shot selection.

      “Winning is a great deodorant”.

    • ProBasketballPundit - Jul 23, 2013 at 10:42 AM

      He is not a bad shooter, he’s a terrible shooter. He takes 8 shots a game from 16+ feet where he averages an abysmal 29%.

      • casualcommenter - Jul 23, 2013 at 1:09 PM

        Yep. Not really complicated.

        Shaq regularly shot 60% from the field. Was Shaq “a great shooter”? Of course not – it’s just that Shaq was regularly able to muscle his way close to the basket before taking his shots.

        Rudy Gay is efficient when he finishes at the rim, but anything beyond 16 from the basket, he’s been awful the past 2 seasons.

        The good news is that there’s a realistic chance his vision correction improves his ability to hit outside jumpers, but shooting 45% “from the field” in no way, shape, or form proves a guy is a good shooter. What matters is his accuracy when shooting from longer distances, and for Gay, those numbers have been terrible.

  7. sportsnut101 - Jul 23, 2013 at 7:30 AM

    Since when is 45% not a good shooter Sorry not every can shoot 54 pct n 58 pct like durant n lebron

    They call Novak a good shooter n he shoots 40 pct This article is useless again

    He just needs to pick his shots That’s what’s poor. His shot selection If u shoot better then 50% in midrange n going to hole well keep doing that

    Just cuz u play the 3 spot doesn’t mean u have to jack up 3’s like crazy

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