Who’s Better: Andre Iguodala or Rudy Gay?

By: 08.19.09  •  52 Comments
Andre Iguodala

Andre Iguodala

We argue. You decide.

Andre Iguodala has taken a major leap the past couple years from just a good player on a mediocre team, to a key piece in the success of a franchise.

Iguodala has managed, solely through hard work and dedication, to cement himself as one of the most underrated and effective players in the NBA today. Rather, he is certainly not known as a one-dimensional player, as Rudy Gay is, for his offensive abilities. Iguodala is not only a credible threat on offense, both inside and outside, but he can also lock up the opponent’s top scorer on defense — something he definitely does not get enough credit for. Andre averages close to 2 steals a game and 6 rebounds per game as a shooting guard. For comparisons sake, Kobe averages 1.5 steals per game and 5 rebounds per game over the course of his career. I’m just sayin’…

What also overshadows Iguodala’s all-around game is his ridiculous jumping ability. The dude has hops. However, his dunking ability sometimes trumps some of his other accomplishments like his phenomenal shooting percentage which is a solid 47% over the course of his career. Andre is also much more effective than Rudy Gay is at getting his teammates involved in games — Iguodala has a career average of 4.4 assists per game to a mere 1.7 for Rudy.

Andre is, quite simply, an effective basketball player. By that, I mean that he truly does make his team better. He gets to the foul line close to 7 times a game, can come up with a key stop when needed, and doesn’t demand the ball in order to make a contribution. Those types of players, like Shawn Marion in his prime, are hard to come by.

Perhaps Iguodala’s most underrated achievement is his ability to stay on the floor on a consistent basis. In his 5 years in the NBA, Andre has missed a total of just 6 games and has averaged close to 40 minutes per game in many of those years. The 76ers have obviously not been a fantastic team over the past few years, which is probably the main reason why (unfortunately) he’s become somewhat of a forgotten man at times.

In all, Iguodala is undoubtedly a much more complete player than Rudy Gay is at this time. Rudy is questionable (at best) on defense, doesn’t get his teammates involved to the extent that Iguodala does, and tends to base his game solely along the perimeter. I do believe that Rudy is probably the better scorer and pure shooter, but I’d take Iggy in a heartbeat to build around if it was between these two.

Rudy Gay

Rudy Gay

RUDY GAY (by Austin Burton)
So much of Rudy Gay’s career has been about how good he can be, we’ve successfully neglected to notice how good he is right now.

Last season was going to be the “leap” year. On Halloween, Rudy dropped 29 points and a game-winner on Orlando, and post-game, made it clear the Grizzlies were his team and he was supposed to be the one taking the money shots. For the critics who dogged him at UConn and the supporters who’ve been with him since he was an 8th-grader drawing Reggie Lewis comparisons at Baltimore’s Cecil-Kirk rec center, it seemed like a turning point. But Rudy’s takeover was stunted by the development of O.J. Mayo — Gay’s shot attempts dropped from 24 a game in October to 14.8 by April — and despite what they said publicly, there was clearly a power struggle in Memphis between the rookie who had always been The Man, and the young vet still learning how to be The Man.

Ultimately, though, O.J.’s presence is a positive for Gay. It means he isn’t the Grizzlies’ only threat, and if Rudy is naturally a No. 2 — like Iguodala — he can settle into becoming one of the League’s best, playing the Pippen role he was made for while O.J. plays MJ. And while ’08-09 wasn’t the superstar breakout it could’ve been, Gay still averaged 18.9 points, 5.5 rebounds and 1.2 steals. His shot percentages were almost identical to the ones he had in ’07-08, when he scored 20 a night; he just had a fellow scoring option in Mayo.

Next season, Gay’s output could even dip another point with Zach Randolph in the mix, but he will be a better player overall. Memphis’ offense was previously designed to do two things: Get O.J. shots, and get Rudy shots. Gay is a better passer than his assist numbers indicate (1.7 apg), and should be able to showcase it now that he has a true low-post scorer, other teammates to step up and hit their shots, and — for a player who’s had five coaches in three NBA seasons — some kind of stability in knowing his role on the court.

Gay added 20 pounds of muscle this summer, putting him at 240 going into a contract year. So if he didn’t lose much quickness and flexibility, Gay now has the size (6-foot-9) to bang with LeBron, Pierce, Carmelo, Kobe, Joe Johnson and other physical wings, yet he still runs faster and jumps higher than most of his peers, including Iguodala. The extra weight also helps Rudy’s defense, which is admittedly well behind Iguodala’s, but not by as much as some would think, given that A.I.2’s D is slightly overrated.

Improving defense, underrated passing, a sophisticated and explosive offensive game, a pure shooting stroke, and now with an added element of power, we may be looking at the most impressive athlete in the game this side of You-Know-Who, and a ballplayer who is a small step ahead of his Philly colleague.

Who do you think is better?

Follow Ben York on Twitter: @bjyork
Follow Austin Burton on Twitter: @AustinatDIMEmag
Follow DIME on Twitter: @DIMEMag

“Who’s better?” archives
8/14 — Ray Allen vs. Michael Redd
8/12 — Steve Nash vs. Jason Kidd
3/3 — David West vs. LaMarcus Aldridge
2/26 — Kevin Durant vs. Danny Granger
2/19 — Paul Millsap vs. David Lee
2/17 — Caron Butler vs. Tayshaun Prince
12/24 — Marcus Camby vs. Andrew Bynum
12/19 — Deron Williams vs. Chauncey Billups
12/17 — Manu Ginobili vs. Tracy McGrady
12/12 — Amare Stoudemire vs. Al Jefferson
12/10 — Dirk Nowitzki vs. Chris Bosh
12/9 — Derrick Rose vs. O.J. Mayo
12/8 — Rasheed Wallace vs. Elton Brand
12/5 — Kevin Martin vs. Vince Carter
12/4 — Brandon Roy vs. Joe Johnson
12/3 — Dwight Howard vs. Yao Ming
12/2 — Paul Pierce vs. Carmelo Anthony

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