NBA trades: Rudy Gay traded to Raptors; how does it effect the Thunder?

Mark D. Smith-US PRESSWIRE

Rudy Gay, the dynamic but inconsistent small forward for the Grizzlies, was traded to the Toronto Raptors. How will this impact the Thunder?

Rudy Gay, the Memphis Grizzlies' dynamic small forward, has been traded to the Toronto Raptors. Rudy Gay rumors had been swirling for many months now, as the Grizzlies' swing player's outsized contract was weighing down the team's cap structure and the burden of his salary outweighed his on-court production. Gay was a part of a 3-team trade, and here is how it breaks down between the Grizzlies, Raptors, and Detroit Pistons.

Toronto Raptors get:

Memphis Grizzlies get:
Detroit Pistons get:
If you want to understand the specifics of each end of the deal, I strongly urge you to check out our expert coverage at Straight Outta Vancouver, Detroit Bad Boys, and Raptors HQ, respectively.

From the Thunder's perspective, the movement of Gay from Memphis to the other side of the country another country means that the Grizzlies will have a new look. Given that Memphis has given OKC all that they can handle dating back to the 2011 Playoffs, what does the trade mean for the Thunder?

I can think of two ways in which the loss of Gay will favor the Thunder, and one in which it will favor the Grizzlies.

How it favors the Thunder:

1) The Grizzlies lose a perimeter scorer.
One of the big reasons why the Thunder have been able to come out slightly ahead of the Grizzlies over these past two seasons is that Memphis had a dominant inside game but could not punish a defense with consistent outside shooting. Part of their struggle was in the fact that Gay had struggled with injuries and was not even available for the 2011 playoffs. However, when Gay was healthy earlier this season, he had a very efficient offensive game scoring from the perimeter and was a big part of the Grizzlies' win.

2) The Grizzlies lose someone who can challenge Kevin Durant on both ends of the court.
Memphis prides itself on its defense and rebounding, and in Gay they had another long-armed defender who could match up well with Durant. However, the real benefit to having Gay on the court was that by having an offensive threat at the small forward position, they were able to challenge Durant offensively AND defensively. By making Durant work much harder on defense, he is less likely to be as efficient on the offensive end of the court. In a playoff series, that can mean the difference between a win and a loss.

How it favors the Grizzlies:

Memphis adds an experienced defensive veteran to counter Durant.

Tayshaun Prince is a great complimentary piece to any championship contender because he doesn't need offensive touches and volumes of shots to be effective, and he is willing to play the defensive specialist against the opposition. When dealing with the Thunder, teams need numerous defenders and a good defensive plan to deal with Durant's growing offensive arsenal. Prince can help out in that regard.
***

Based on this initial analysis, I think the Thunder are comparatively stronger now that Gay is in Toronto, but the games themselves will show us the truth.

What do you think?

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