Rudy Gay's Overtime Heroics Prove Toronto Raptors Won Trade with Grizzlies

Alex BallentineFeatured ColumnistFebruary 8, 2013

Feb 8, 2013; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Toronto Raptors forward Rudy Gay (22) is guarded by Indiana Pacers forward Paul George (24) at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Toronto defeats Indiana 100-98 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

The Toronto Raptors' decision to bring Rudy Gay into the fold is paying dividends already. Gay hit the game-winning shot in overtime Friday night against the Indiana Pacers

Gay hit the 15-footer with 1.7 seconds left and was being guarded by one of the Pacers' best defenders in Paul George, it was the perfect example of what the Raptors now have in their new forward—a bona fide scorer that can carry the offense. 

The Grizzlies, on the other hand, received Tayshaun Prince, Ed Davis and Austin Daye in return. While Daye may turn out to be a good piece for Memphis in the future, it was definitely the Raptors that won the trade. 

Gay has been an instant shot in the arm for the Raptors. The game-winner capped off a matchup in which he filled the stat sheet with 25 points, five rebounds, five steals and two blocks. Gay has scored more than 20 points in each of his four games with his new team. 

While you can point to the small sample size. Gay is showing early on that he has what it takes to be "the man" for the Raptors—a role that he was not given when in Memphis. 

The Grizzlies are already missing Gay. Since the trade, Memphis is just 2-3 in their past five games and have struggled to match the production of Gay with the combination of Prince and Daye. 

Even Grizzlies head coach Lionel Hollins admitted that he was not happy with trading away Gay, telling USA Today

I've been here five years, and I've taken the kids from baby steps to what I thought was a pretty good roster to do what I thought we could do... Whether we could or not remains to be seen. There are no guarantees in this thing. When decisions are made above my head, I have to run with it.

Anytime the head coach tells the media that he wasn't exactly comfortable with a trade, there's a good chance it wasn't the best basketball decision. 

The Raptors management did an excellent job of taking three mediocre pieces and turning them into a guy that can be a star for them. After years of playing second or third fiddle to Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol, Gay has shown that he is capable of stepping into the spotlight and putting the team on his back. 

For a struggling Raptors franchise, that's exactly the kind of player they needed. 

With Gay already knocking down game-winners for the Raptors, the front office hit a big home run by making the move to acquire him.