Gay was traded from the Memphis Grizzlies to the Raptors on Jan. 30. Since then, he has gone on a tear averaging 19.4 points, 6.4 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 1.7 steals per game while shooting 41.6 percent from the field. He even set a Toronto franchise record by scoring 74 points in his first three games with the team.
The 26-year-old has been dealing with various injuries, including a sprained ankle and back issues. However, he has decided to play through the pain instead of being shut down for the season. With only seven games left on the schedule and the playoffs already ruled out, it would be wise for the Raptors to give him some much needed rest. The fact that Gay refuses to sit out shows that he has accepted the leadership role on the team.
Gay leads Toronto in points and steals this season, but it is not all about personal statistics. Gay is determined to get the team ready for when they take the court with a clean slate in the fall.
“We’ve got a lot of young players and we’re playing for next year,” Gay told the Sports Network after last Friday’s victory over the Detroit Pistons. “These young guys need to know what it feels like to win.”
The fact of the matter is Gay inspired the Raptors when he joined the team earlier this year. Toronto consistently played at a high level, and the talk around the league was the Raptors were an up-and-coming team. In fact, Toronto won six of their first eight games with Gay on the roster, including five in a row. Unfortunately, the fun did not last as Gay and other players dealt with nagging injuries.
With that being said, the most valued player in an organization is a game changer, someone who is capable of making everyone around them better. Gay accomplished that and more this season.