Grizzlies vs. Thunder: Why Memphis Will Be Fine in 1st Game Without Rudy Gay

Joshua Acosta@@Josh_AcostaContributor IIIJanuary 31, 2013

Grizzlies traded Rudy Gay to the Toronto Raptors.
Grizzlies traded Rudy Gay to the Toronto Raptors.Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The Memphis Grizzlies will face off against the Oklahoma City Thunder in their first game after trading Rudy Gay to the Toronto Raptors.

The Canadian government will be glad to hear the Grizzlies shipped Gay and his large contract up north in order to free up salary-cap space.  In return, the Grizzlies received a 2013 second-round pick, Ed Davis, Tayshaun Prince and Austin Daye from the Raptors and Pistons.

Gay still owed $16.5 million this season and $37 million more over the next two years, according to ESPN.

Although they have lost their leading scorer, the Grizzlies will be just fine without Gay.


Gay’s Inefficient Shooting

Gay led the Grizzlies in points per game this season with 17.2, but he is to blame for the team’s stagnant offense at times.  He averaged 16.4 field goal attempts a game but only made 40.8 percent, the lowest percentage out of all Grizzlies’ starters.

With Gay gone, the offense can have more ball movement instead of watching him pull up for jump shots. Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol, the Grizzlies’ second and third leading scorers can take higher percentage shots against the Thunder frontcourt.

The Grizzlies must get the offense going and not fall behind the Thunder as they lead the league in points per game with 105.7.

Zach Randolph

Rebounding is one of the keys to winning tonight’s game, and Randolph is one of the best.

Randolph is averaging a double-double this season with 15.8 points and 11.6 rebounds a game.  He is second in the league in total rebounds behind Dwight Howard and third in offensive rebounds.  If Russell Westbrook has a bad game, Randolph and the Grizzlies will benefit.

Randolph will need to repeat his performance from earlier this season.  He scored 20 points with a game-high 11 rebounds in a 107-97 win against the Thunder.


Gasol vs. Perkins

Gasol should win the battle in the low post against Kendrick Perkins.  The 7’1” Spaniard is taller and more active on the boards averaging 7.5 rebounds a game compared to Perkins’ 5.9.

The Grizzlies can benefit from Perkins’ aggressive style of defense by forcing him into foul trouble. Gasol is shooting 87.7 percent from the free-throw line, and the Grizzlies are fourth in the league, shooting 79 percent.

Gasol also needs to continue being the facilitator on offense as he stands to receive more touches.  Finding the open man in motion and passing if double-teamed will improve the team’s chances of winning.

The Grizzlies will be just fine without Gay tonight as long as Randolph and Gasol have great nights.