Its time for a mid-season check-in with your Utah Jazz and there isn’t any better way to do this than to get the voices your know best in the market to help analyze how they are doing. We’re grateful to have linked up with Amar, Clark, Diana, and Jon from SLC Dunk, Grant from Torn By Sports, Allen and James from The Dog and Deuce Show, and of course Mike and Matt weigh in as well. If you haven’t been reading SLC Dunk or TBS or listening to D&D, you really need to check them out.
6. Gordon Hayward’s role changed a bit this season to becoming a bench player. Gordon Monson wrote that he feels Hayward is ready to become an All-Star. How do you feel about the 9th overall pick in 2010 that was booed vehemently by Jazz fans?
Amar: I think that Hayward can be very good in this league, and can be an All-Star once or twice before all is said and done. (Boozer, Okur, and Kirilenko were all All-stars as well) That said, he needs the ball in his hands more, and diversifying the offense away from “Al in the left block” will help with that.
Clark: If the league were to redraft the 2010 draft today, I think it would go like this:
- John Wall
- Derrick Favors
- Greg Monroe
- Demarcus Cousins
- Paul George
- Gordon Hayward
- Larry Sanders
- Eric Bledsoe
- Ed Davis
- Avery Bradley
You could certainly quibble over some of those spots, but I think it’s safe to say that Gordon is as good or probably better than where he was drafted. So from that standpoint, I think he was a good draft pick. I believe in Gordon Hayward. I think he has that drive to get better. He has improved his 3 point shooting in the middle of the season this year. He improved his mid range game after his first year. He has ball handling issues, but he’s improved there over his first few seasons. He has a strong track record of improving his game. I don’t know if he’ll ever be an all-star but I think he’ll definitely be a good starter.
Deuce: There is no doubt Gordon Hayward has made some improvements over the past few years. But one aspect of his game remains glaringly absent on a consistent basis; that of taking the ball to the rim. Hayward is a nightmare matchup for teams opposing the Jazz in the sense that he is long and seemingly athletic, but he doesn’t use that athleticism to his advantage often enough for him to be an All Star. Instead he opts for mid-range or 3pt jump shots, even when he has a bigger, slower defender guarding him on the switch. Remember when Hayward went through a shooting slump in late November through mid-December? His shot selection during that timeframe was poor at best, he continued to throw up jumpers and not go to the rack. Most teams are content to let him take those jump shots because this eliminates the threat of him getting to the rim, free throw line or getting other teammates involved in the offense. Considering he shoots 82.2% from the free throw line, 3rd best on the team, he should take the ball to the hoop as a first option and not settle for perimeter jump shoots night in and night out. If and when he decides to use his athleticism and help exploit mismatches for the offense only then will he get consideration for the All Star game. To me, at this point, that seems like a long way off. Not to mention, All Stars should make all the players around them better and I’m not sure he does that at this point in his career.
Diana: I love Gordon Hayward. I hope he is with the Jazz for his entire NBA career. I feel like Gordon deserves 35+ minutes a game. The Jazz are a much better team with Gordon on the floor. The big problem is that when Al Jefferson is in the game Gordon is used as a Randy Foye spot up shooter which is not an effective way to use Gordon, that’s why Gordon is so successful coming off the bench, Gordon is able to use his ability to create and be a slasher which is a better role for him than as a boring spot up shooter. Gordon can be an All-Star but not while Al Jefferson is the focus of this team. The only players that are used correctly with our team when Al Jefferson plays are Al and Randy. That’s not that great if you ask me.
Dog: I’ll be the first to admit that I did not like the pick when it was made. At the time I felt the Jazz wasted a much coveted pick on someone who didn’t have a whole lot of upside. I’m glad to say that I was wrong. Hayward has really come along and he looks like he could assume the leadership role in the next year or two. Plus he’s one of the greatest rappers of all time.
Grant: I think the role Hayward has taken this season is ideal. He has played great off the bench. So well that there have been some comparisons to Manu Ginobli. Hayward filling this role is on the checklist of things needed to be a contender; namely a consistent 6th man. Is he an Allstar? Not yet, but many see the potential. Of the young guys on the team, Hayward is getting the most minutes and his progression clearly shows the importance of being in the game. The booing from draft night is a thing of the past. Jazz fans have repented and Hayward is a Christian man who will have forgiven them.
Matt: I like Hayward. I really do. I think he can be great, but right now, as Ty Corbin is running the rotations, he has to be in that role of leader of the second unit. I think it’s been really good for him this season as well. It has allowed him to grow his confidence and embrace the role of being a leader. And I think it’s time that he is moved back to the starting unit; he’s already finishing there most nights. The problem with that is then you have almost no legit scorer for the second unit . . . however, you should know by now, I wouldn’t say that if I weren’t going to offer my suggestion. I think it’s time for Millsap to head to the second unit and get Favors more time. Let Hayward be that second scorer on the first team; its time Ty.
Mike: My 14 year old…12 year old at the time, told me before the 2010 draft that the Jazz were drafting Gordon Hayward and that he would be a star. I told him to stop eating paint chips. I was one of the vehemently booing fans. Heyward reminds me of an AK/Hornecek love child. If he develops a cold blooded 3 point shot he could be a poor man’s Kevin Durrant.
Jon: Hayward’s production is that of an All-Star. This goes largely unnoticed because he’s only been playing 25 min/game since mid-November. But he has been simply terrific. One of the things his move to the bench did was change his role on offense from main sidekick to Big Al to focal point of the offense. There were kinks at first, but Hayward has worked through them and become a terrific player. Here are his per-36 minute stats since December 1 (when the struggles mostly evaporated):
19.5 pts, 4 rbd, 4 ast, 1 stl, 1 blk, 2.5 TO, 2.5 PF, 44% FG, 47% 3P, 82% FT, 6 FTA, 58% True Shooting.
That’s simply phenomenal production. That’s Paul George (an All-Star) with better shooting but fewer rebounds.
Will he keep up this production? Who knows? Will it translate once he plays the minutes he deserves? Again, who knows?
What we can say is that for the last month and a half, when Hayward is playing he’s the best guy on the court for the Jazz, regardless of who else is out there with him.