The Triple Team: Three Thoughts on Jazz vs. Kings 12/8/2014

December 9th, 2014 | by David J Smith
Rudy Gay was the best player on the court Monday (Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images)

Rudy Gay was the best player on the court Monday (Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images)

1. Sacramento’s Rudy G proved a lot Monday.  

Rudy Gay is stepping up in a major way. His reputation has been well known around the NBA: an inefficient gunner who will put points on the board while offering very little else. Moreover, the gaudy scoring stats do not contribute to wins, especially with a big price tag ($19.3 million salary this season, plus the three-year, $40 million extension he inked with the Kings in November).

Well, it’s never too late to turn the corner. One of the nice developments in the entire NBA this season has been Gay’s heightened play. In fact, his move to the Kings has rejuvenated his career and put him on a much different trajectory. He is simply having a banner campaign, which is quite unique as a ninth-year player. Gay is posting career best marks across the board: scoring (21.1 PPG), assists (4.5 APG), free throws made (5.4/game) and attempted (6.3) and free throw percentage (86.7 percent).

The advanced stats tell the true story. Gay is posting a 21.0 PER, after eclipsing the 18 PER mark just once thus far. His .564 True Shooting Percentage is also a nice increase1, thanks large in part to his .394 Free Throw Attempt Rate2. Perhaps most eye-opening is his elite 23.4 AST%3. He’s re-defined his game to become an efficient scorer who is helping lift his teammates’ games as well, and he’s helping Sacramento win.

While big man DeMarcus Cousins has been huge, Gay’s play has been certainly been a major catalyst for the surprise 11-10 Sacramento Kings start. This was evident Monday, particularly with Boogie out of the lineup once again. His game-high 29 points included 10 in the fourth quarter. Gay’s defense on Gordon Hayward helped limit Utah’s leading scorer to just seven points over the final three quarters. And yes, he received the coveted “Rudy! Rudy!” chants down the stretch. All in all, Gay’s transformation has him in the running for an All-Star nomination. It’s been nice to see this.

2. Utah’s Rudy G proved a lot Monday.

I recently went into detail on Rudy Gobert’s steady emergence. He has been an absolute highlight for a Jazz squad in need of some positives. When Derrick Favors encountered foul trouble in both halves, Gobert’s number was called and once again, he produced. The 7’1″ center finished with 12 points and nine rebounds in 21 minutes. But it was the way he did it that stood out – Gobert was all over the court, helping stymie Sacramento’s offense in the third quarter (just 13 points for the Kings). He was guarding guys on the perimeter, then using his gigantic stride to get back under the basket to protect the rim. He dominated the defensive boards and had three emphatic slams on the other end, one after a pretty drive under the basket. Rudy Gobert is again looking like one of Utah’s most consistent players this season.

3. It hasn’t matter if Jazz opponents have been missing their stars.

Sacramento winning sans Cousins has been another disheartening trend during this nine-game losing streak. Many of the Jazz’s opponents have been without some big guns:

  • 11.21 @. Golden State: David Lee
  • 11.22 vs. New Orleans: Omer Asik, Eric Gordon (just 15 minutes)
  • 11.24 vs. Chicago: Taj Gibson
  • 11.26 @ Oklahoma City: Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook
  • 12.03 vs. Toronto: DeMar DeRozan
  • 12.05 vs. Orlando: Nikola Vucevic
  • 12.08 @ Sacramento: DeMarcus Cousins.

It’s a worrying trend, especially while the Jazz (outside a couple game absence for Alec Burks and one missed game due to illness for Derrick Favors) have maintained relatively good health to their key players. Utah will hope to rectify it soon, as they won’t continue to face short-handed squads all season.

The Jazz are back in action tonight, facing the San Antonio Spurs at home. The trend of missing stars will continue for team opponents, as point guard Tony Parker has already been ruled out for San Antonio. Check back to Salt City Hoops after the game for another comprehensive Triple Team!

David J Smith

David J Smith

Besides writing for Salt City Hoops, David contributes to the Utah Jazz coverage for the Deseret News and has written for the Utah Jazz website and (now Basketball Insiders). He graduated from BYU and works for LDS Philanthropies. He and his incredibly patient wife, Elizabeth, have some amazing children--four girls and two boys. Voted "Most Likely to Replace Jerry Sloan" in high school.
David J Smith

One Comment

  1. Paul Johnson says:

    Rudy! Rudy! (Rudy Gay, Rudy Gobert).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *