What’s Happening With Hayward?

November 2nd, 2015 | by Lucas Falk
Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

The Utah Jazz are currently 2-1 and have looked mostly impressive against some subpar competition. Derrick Favors has been playing like an All-Star and alongside Rudy Gobert, the defense has been suffocating. But the third member of Utah’s Big Three, Gordon Hayward, has yet to look like the player he was last year. Through the first three games of the season Hayward has averaged just 12 points, shooting 35.3 percent from the field and 69.2 from the line. So what’s happening with Hayward?

Shot Selection

Just as for any scorer, Hayward’s shot selection is key to his overall productivity. As great as Hayward was offensively last year, he doesn’t have the same kind of green light as Steph Curry. At times during this first part of the season Hayward has appeared to be forcing up tough shots. Take a look at this play from the last game versus the Indiana Pacers.

Hayward sets up his defender with a jab step and then uses a Trevor Booker screen to get to the the top of the key to receive a handoff from Rudy Gobert. Hayward then uses a Gobert screen to penetrate into the paint, only to stop his dribble and hoist up a tough turnaround fadeaway. While it may be a shot that Hayward has the ability to hit, he already had the smaller George Hill at his back. Instead of stopping his dribble, he could have used the lane he created to shoot a floater or attack the rim.

Here’s another example of a shot Hayward could have and should have taken.

Possessions after an offensive rebound are great chances to find open looks. Here the Jazz secure a rebound from a missed free throw. It’s kicked out to Raul Neto who then swings it to Hayward, who has the chance to step into a rhythm three, but instead drives for a contested layup and misses. In today’s NBA, the three point shot is extremely valuable and something rare for the Jazz — Hayward cannot pass up an open look from downtown.

Foul Trouble

Hayward’s issues with foul trouble are twofold. First, he’s had to sit for stretches during the games and has not been able to get into a groove because he’s been in foul trouble. On the other hand, Hayward has not been receiving the same kind of love from the officials he was last year.

So far, Hayward is averaging three fouls per game. While that average won’t disqualify him from any games, he still hasn’t been able to find his touch in part because foul trouble disrupts a player’s rhythm. Interestingly, Hayward has been called for a handful of offensive fouls, which indicate he could be forcing a little too much.

The other side of the equation is that Hayward is being slightly disrespected by the officials, in my opinion. Last season, Hayward got to the charity stripe 6.1 times per game. Thus far, that number is down to 4.3 from the line, where he’s shooting an abysmal percentage.

Only three games into the season, there certainly isn’t any reason to press the panic button on Hayward. Both of these issues are easily fixable and I don’t doubt they’ll be corrected, hopefully sooner rather than later. But if Hayward continues to struggle, look for his shot selection and foul trouble to be at the heart of it.

Lucas Falk
Lucas Falk is a basketball junkie from Salt Lake City. Lucas is an alumnus of both Olympus High School and the University of Utah, where he earned a degree in Economics. Lucas is also a proponent of doing a reboot to the film "White Men Can't Jump." He can be found on Twitter @Lucaswfalk.
Lucas Falk
Lucas Falk

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13 Comments

  1. Tony says:

    Good article. I would add that it simply looks like teams are electing to limit/double Hayward, and let someone else beat them.

    • Lucas Falk says:

      True. I do feel like as teams try to go small against the Jazz, Favors has seen the bulk of the double teams. But, of course, teams are scouting the Jazz more effectively and keying in on Hayward, which is why Hayward’s shot selection becomes even more important- no more easy buckets for Gordon. Thanks for the comment! Keep on reading!

  2. Casey says:

    He may also be having a difficult time adjusting to a changing role in the offense. Last year he was the clear focal point. We relied on him to hit tough shots toward the end of the shot clock. He was getting quite a few more attempts. Its seems like we need those bailout attempts less frequently this year. In addition to getting less attempts while on the bench in foul trouble this season, not getting shots while in the game could be effecting his ability to get into a rhythm.

    • Lucas Falk says:

      Great point, Casey. The Jazz still find themselves working late into the shot clock, but not quite as often thus far. Hayward still needs to get his shots though, even if the Jazz don’t depend on him for some dwindling shot clock heroics. I’ve got a fever and the only cure is for Hayward to get rolling. Thanks for reading!

    • Abyss333 says:

      I know Favours is playing great but Hayward still needs to be the #1 option on this team for the Jazz to succeed. Im just praying He can take the next step and be considered a top 15 player in the league cause he really does have that potential.

  3. Casey says:

    affecting

  4. Synderforpresident says:

    Its three games, calm down, he’ll be just fine. Have you seen James Harden play? He’s been worse, but we all still know Harden will be destroying the league again soon. Same for Hayward. We good.

    • Lucas Falk says:

      I don’t disagree with you (see last paragraph). Didn’t say they were long term problems, simply problems that have occurred during the very small part of the season. I’m confident Hayward can and will be the same level of scorer he showed last season. Also, I would definitely vote for Quin Snyder as POTUS.

    • Abyss333 says:

      Nah Harden is past his prime

  5. JC says:

    I am a big Hayward fan but Hood, Burkes, and Favors all look like capable scorers. You can only have so many 20 point a game players each night. I am more concerned about his assists and rebounding so far. And he needs to get to the line!!

  6. Don says:

    You have to wonder if he is struggling because of injury. When your body is not in perfect shape, you can still play but you will not play at the same level.

    Next you start forcing things, which also explains your first point.

    Of course neither the Jazz nor Hayward will admit to injury problems if that is the case.

    How many years did we know nothing about Burks’ shoulder injury?

  7. I agree with jc. The jazz have only so many shots a game and with Hood, Favors and Burks taking more shots there not as many for Gordon. He is passing the same percentage but not thee ball handler he was last year. His defense is better but he is not rebounding like he did last year. This could be due to Rudy and Favors getting most of the rebounds. I do see the jazz not getting to the line like they did last year. This could be due to road games, history does show home teams get more of the 50-50 calls. Let’s wait till 20 or so games have been played and then we should have a better view of each player, the jazz defense and offense along with each player. I personally like a balanced team offensively which the jazz now have.

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