Is There A Changed Rudy Gay In Sacramento?

(Kelley L. Fox/ USA TODAY Sports)

(Kelley L. Fox/ USA TODAY Sports)

Since coming over from Toronto, Rudy Gay has played in two games for the Kings, and they’re 1-1 in those games after last night’s 106-91 victory over the visiting Rockets. Sunday night was Gay’s introduction to the raucous fans in Sacramento, a city that fought tooth and nail to save their NBA team from moving to Seattle. But Gay’s performance in his two Kings outings has been, gulp, really efficient. Will his effectiveness continue, or will he regress back to the median of his time in Toronto?.

The question is whether Gay’s 56.3 percent shooting from the floor since coming over to Sacramento can continue as he moves forward. During the first 18 games in Toronto this season, Gay was shooting a career-low 38.8 percent from the field, and had again fallen in love with the mid-range jumpers that make basketball analytics people curl up in a ball before gently rocking themselves to sleep. The mid-range jumper is the most inefficient shot in basketball and stands in stark contrast to the analytic-heavy trajectory of the NBA with the new SportVU cameras in every arena this season and analytics departments in all the top franchises.

But Gay showed a willingness to attack the rim in Sunday night’s 15-point victory over the visiting Rockets, getting easy buckets in the restricted area, and somewhat neglecting those awful step-back jumpers inside the three-point arc. Watch as he drives to the rim in transition, and takes it to the hole after pump-faking beyond the arc:

Of the 20 field goal attempts Rudy attempted last night, 11 were in the restricted area. That’s an excellent distribution, but it diverges with what he’d done earlier this season in Toronto. Check out the basic zone shot distribution for Rudy in Toronto before he was traded to Sacramento:

(photo. NBA.com/stats)

(photo. NBA.com/stats)

And his basic zone shot distribution through two games as a member of the Kings:

(photo. NBA.com/stats)

(photo. NBA.com/stats)

Just watch as Gay challenges Dwight Howard after Howard switches on to him following a Boogie pick at the top of the key. The old Rudy might have pulled up for a jumper after getting some seperation from D-12, but this Sacramento incarnation takes it all the way to the bucket for a pretty left-handed scoop.

But Rudy still can’t pass up the mid-range, as you’ll see, it’s just that they’re a tad different in Sacramento.

See how Rudy’s mid-range attempts are different…

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