"But when I looked into Gay's averages, I saw that he's actually taking slightly more shots (16.6 field goal attempts per game) this season than he did last year (16.4 FGA) or the year before (16.1 FGA). In fact, his across-the-board box score stats are eerily similar this year compared to last. From free-throw percentage, rebounds, assists, turnovers, steals, and blocks, he's essentially been the same player. Just about the only difference, in fact, is that last year Gay shot 45.5 percent from the field (after shooting 47.1 percent in 2011), while this year he is shooting only 41 percent for the year and 39.5 percent for the last month. The entirety of Gay's drop off in scoring and the rankings is tied to his drop in FG%.
The lower shooting percentage could fit with the story that the Grizzlies aren't featuring Gay this year like they did last year, so I decided to dig a bit further. I went over to 82games.com and checked out Gay's shot selection and assisted rate for this season as opposed to last season. But once again, the data didn't support my hypothesis. Gay's shot chart breakdown is again very similar from year to year. This year he's actually shooting slightly fewer jump shots (75 percent of his shots) than he did last season (77 percent of his shots), and he's been setup off of assists in a slightly higher percentage of his shots this year (48 percent of shots assisted) as opposed to last season (44 percent of shots assisted). He's even hitting his jump shots at a similar rate this year (41.9 percent effective field goals) compared to last year (42.9 percent EFG). The main difference in his shooting over the two seasons, when you look in depth, is that last year he made 64.9 percent of his inside shots (defined as "close," "dunk," or "tips"), while this year he's only making 54.9 percent of his inside shots.
So, what does all of this tell us about Gay? He's playing the game overall at the same level as he did last year. He's taking the same shots that he took last year; he's just had more trouble finishing around the rim this year. And when you look at Gay's entire career, including last season, you see that Gay is currently shooting far below his norm from the field. His 41 percent FG would represent a career low mark, more than four percent below his career average. Add it all up, and to me it's starting to look like Gay just had some bad luck shooting the ball early on. If I had to bet, I'd say that he will revert to his career mean as the season progresses, meaning that he'll likely shoot at least 45-48 percent from the field over the next few months to get back to his expected value.
I didn't expect this when I started this article, but the data suggests to me that Gay actually makes a good buy-low candidate for the rest of the season.