Gregg Popovich’s Biggest Test

The San Antonio Spurs have been one of the biggest standards of excellence over the last twenty years. They play hard, have no egos, sign smartly in free agency and draft and develop players well. The result of that has been multiple championship under the watchful eye of head coach Gregg Popovich. The Spurs seem to be a contender year in and year out and most of that credit goes to Popovich and all that he does. His ability to connect with players and get them to conform to the Spurs way of living is incredible. Over the years he has had many players come through his system and over and over he has gotten them to buy into the system and culture he has helped create in San Antonio. This offseason, the Spurs were looking to add another element to what they had and one name that was mentioned was Rudy Gay. The talented forward was being mentioned with teams like the Thunder and Warriors along with the Spurs. In the end, the Spurs won the chase for Gay's services, signing him up to a two-year, $17.2 million deal (player option for the second year) and with that, the Spurs and Gregg Popovich have their biggest challenge they have ever had.

When Rudy Gay was coming out of college, everyone saw a special talent that could play the small forward position. He could shot and score like no other and at his height, he was difficult for teams to match up with at that time. Some thought he would be a great pro and definitely be a franchise-changing player. Unfortunately, things have not worked out that way over his career. Gay has averaged 18.4 points in his eleven-year career and can drop buckets. But unfortunately, success has not followed his scoring. Gay has played for Memphis, Toronto and Sacramento during his career. Two of those three teams have had much more success after he has left them then when he was with them. One of the main reasons why is that Gay kills ball movement. Gay has been a isolation player during his entire career. It has worked well sometimes for him, but it has more often derailed teams and they potential for success. Offense isn't the only issue that Gay has had when it comes to success. Defensively Gay has all the tools to be a good defender, but it seems that he never really gives full effort all the time on that end of the court. For a guy that has wanted to win but has never done so at the ultimate level, that is not a good thing and something that has made some basketball fans sour on him.

So with all those things that he has going against him, why would San Antonio have any interest in his services? Well, the main reason is the Spurs need some athleticism up front. Besides Jonathan Simmons and Kawhi Leonard, the Spurs did not have many super athletic guys in their rotation. With Gay in the rotation, he allows them to matchup just a little bit better with Golden State when they go with their smaller lineup. Also with the Spurs, LaMarcus Aldridge has not been the guy that they thought he would be. He has been stiff at times defensively and been absent on the offensive end at the times they need him the most. When that happened, the Spurs did not have any other options besides him. With the addition of Gay, now the Spurs have another scoring option they can slide to the four spot and their offense can still have a focal point to run through other than Kawhi and LaMarcus. Now all these things are good things in regards to Gay and what he can do for San Antonio, but it all depends on him and what he wants to do. Does he want to buy into the system and culture in San Antonio or does he want to continue to be the same Rudy Gay that he has always been? If he buys in and more than likely helps them off the bench as a backup small forward/power forward, then success could follow for him.

Rudy has a chance to write another chapter in his career. Being an isolation scorer has not done much for his career in terms of success. Now is his time to redefine his career. Sure, he could have taken more money potentially somewhere else, but he chose the Spurs for a reason. The power is within his hands and he is in control of his destiny. Here is his opportunity to rewrite his history and change his perception.

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1 Response

  1. Why did you say the Kings have had more success after Gay left?

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