Acquiring Rudy Gay was one of the biggest trades in Toronto Raptors‘ history, and it’s landed them a player that they’ve been missing since Vince Carter’s departure. Do I mean Gay is a legitimate number one option, and more talented than Chris Bosh? Maybe. However, what’s certain is Gay’s ability to consistently create his own shot, something Bosh couldn’t really do. Rudy is clutch, and can close games down the stretch. He gives the Raptors a legitimate top 5 small forward, something they’ve been missing for far too long.
I’ve been saying this for a while now; the Raptors need a number one option at the small forward spot from becoming a championship contender. While I don’t think Gay is a number one option (see LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Durant) he’s a tier just below them. However, I don’t think adding Gay pushes the Raptors into that contender status, yet Bryan Colangelo’s logic indicates otherwise. He gives up a potential future all-star, for a proven player which once again accelerates the rebuild.
So, what it essentially comes down to is; what exactly are the Raptors doing? It’s evident that the rebuilding stage is over, if this team was together from the beginning of the year you’d see a likely top 5 seed. But has Colangelo set up the team for the future, or are they aiming for contention now? It’s likely the latter, and this move has Colangelo written all over it, especially with his expiring contract.
Evidently, this team isn’t ready to contend for a championship yet. They are currently in the ‘treadmill’ stage, similar to where the Atlanta Hawks and Utah Jazz have been for many years: a playoff team with nothing more than second round potential. And how exactly are the Raps supposed to get out of this spot?
A huge factor will be the speed of Jonas Valanciunas and Terrence Ross’ development. With respect to Valanciunas, if he can blossom into a legitimate starting center by his third year, this team would have a core of Kyle Lowry, DeMar DeRozan, Ross, Gay, and Valanciunas. That could potentially be very, very good however there is still that hole at the power forward slot.
Rudy Gay said that the Raps were one piece away from making some noise, and he certainly isn’t wrong. Currently, the Raps are missing a consistent scorer inside the paint. Amir Johnson is better suited as the 3rd rotational big man on a contender, and Valanciunas isn’t ready to take on that number one big man role yet. However, adding a player like Paul Milsap or Josh Smith would allow this team to take the next step, and would allow them to compete with any team in the East.
Another option could just be to stick with Andrea Bargnani. Reason being, Bargnani won’t be under pressure offensively, and should thrive alongside Gay and DeRozan. Bargnani is a capable man to man defender, and Gay’s rebounding should help offset some of Bargnani’s weaknesses in that area.
The bottom line is that this team is built very strangely. The rebuild is evidently over, but did Colangelo make the push too soon?
To sum it, the Raps acquired a legitimate starting small forward that can close games, and brings some star power to the team. The thing people seem to forget is that he’s still only 26 years old, and Gay, along wiith DeRozan, Lowry, Ross, and Valanciunas still have room to develop. As this team starts to play together, they will only get better. And if Bargnani can step up, good, good things are in store for this team. If not, and BC is able to go out and get that number one big man option, within a couple of years, the Raptors may have assembled their best team in franchise history.
Credit to Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports for the photo