Danny Granger of the Indiana Pacers and Rudy Gay of the Memphis Grizzlies are of the NBA’s best small forwards, but for every similarity between the two has a corresponding difference. The older Granger has an All-Star appearance, while Gay does not. Granger’s game is a bit more subtle, while Gay relies more on his tremendous athleticism. Both fill the stat sheet and play the same position, but they do it in two very different ways. There is a striking level of similarity between the two players, but it’s the differences – both small and large – that makes comparing the two so fun.
Granger Can Nail All The Shots Consistently
As a scorer, Granger tends to be more consistent from all over the floor. Both are coming off seasons where their field goal percentages took a bit of a dip from the prior season. Gay shot 45.5 percent from the field last year giving him a slight edge over Granger’s 41.6 percent, although both saw a year-to-year decline from 47.1 and 42.5 percent respectively.
It speaks volumes, then, to point out that Granger’s shooting percentage was a career low while Gay’s hovered around his career average. If there is one distinct advantage between the two, it’s that Granger is more efficient from behind the three-point line. His 38 percent shooting from long range last season was an excellent figure to hit, while Gay once again trailed significantly with a long-distance shooting percentage that was just over 30 percent.
Gay Is More Gifted Athletically
However, what sets Gay apart from and likely ahead of Granger is his athleticism. To keep it simple, Granger and Gay are both tremendously talented players. Gay, however, is much more athletic – he’s quicker, has more spring in his step and is better in one-on-one situations.
Granger Is Starting to Show His Mileage
When comparing any player, durability is one of the most important factors to keep in mind. After all, what value does a player have if he is planted on the bench for the course of a season? The upper hand no doubt goes to Rudy Gay on this one. Although Gay suffered a partially separated shoulder in 2011 that forced him to miss the remainder of the season, he has otherwise managed to stay in relatively good health. Granger, on the other hand, has begun to show some mileage.
Although he managed to stay on the court earlier in his career, he has since 2009 dealt with various aches and pains. He suffered from plantar fasciitis a couple of seasons ago, and he has had several knee injuries over the years. More recently, he suffered a tendon injury during the 2012 playoffs that, although he was able to play through it, forces one to wonder what his shelf life is like.
Youth and Potential Reign Supreme
From a management perspective, though, it’s hard to believe that there’s a GM in the league that wouldn’t prefer to have Gay on their team than Granger. Danny is 29 years old, meaning that within a couple of seasons he will likely hit the point where his production starts to noticeably decline. Gay, on the other hand, is just 26. He’s also coming off of a season in which he managed to add quite a bit to his game. Shooting percentages can be improved upon, and most scouts throughout the league would tell you that Gay has all of the right tools. If he can put together a solid season and improve on his shooting percentages, he’ll be regarded as one of the best players in the league.
In a sense, that’s the difference between Granger and Gay. If a team is looking for a player who can make immediate contributions to a title run, they’d opt for Granger. Unfortunately, although the Pacers looked particularly competitive last season, it seems unlikely that they’ll be hoisting a trophy at the end of this season. In Gay’s case, he fits better as part of a team that is talented and growing.
That works out well for Memphis, as the Grizzlies have several talented young players such as Marc Gasol who can develop with Gay. Although Danny Granger is a valuable player, Rudy Gay is objectively more talented – it seems like just a matter of time before his play and stats show that, which will allow him to surpass Granger in most measurable categories.
Author Bio: Don Phan is a full-time marketing analyst at Fanatics Inc and a part-time sports blogger. His company sells licensed sports merchandise and runs several brands including Pro Sports Memorabilia. You can find authentic basketball memorabilia of current and former NBA greats at their online store.