There’s a lot to like about the all-around, two-way game of Gordon Hayward. But I think Jazz fans are also pretty realistic about the fact that he is not the #1 guy on a great playoff team. He’s a very good second or third option on a great playoff team, so we’re seeing the learning and stretching process as he’s trying to figure that out. As David Locke has pointed out, Hayward’s struggles seem to coincide with Trey Burke’s. While Hayward’s been putting up very consistent rebounding and assist numbers each game, his offensive efficiency has been lacking. At times, he’s heavily turnover prone, as we saw highlighted in the Golden State game with his 8 turnovers (including a crucial turnover in the final minute of the game). Jazz fans, here are a few questions for you: Do you want the Jazz to re-sign him in the offseason? At what price? Or do you support the trade-Hayward-now idea?
Trey Burke has been struggling lately. In January, he shot 35.1% from the field, down from 40.8% in December, and 36.6% in November. His 3FG% is down in January, at 32.7%, down from 36.8% in December. While his assists per game have increased each month—3.0 to 5.9 to 6.8 assists per game—his rebounding and turnover numbers have also gotten worse. Is this the rookie wall? Or is this what happens when other teams are scouting him and focusing their defensive strategies on him? At the same time, I feel like I’ve learned a few things about Burke this year: he’s more mature than most his age, and he’s a competitor and is going to keep fighting. This is going to be a bumpy year for him—it often is for rookie point guards—but he’ll find a way to finish strong, and he’ll come back next year even better.
Diante Garrett is a pretty solid backup point guard. I think he’d look even better if we were fully healthy and had the bench we thought we’d have at the beginning of the season, but he’s looked especially good in this last week—relatively speaking, of course, with a handful of losses—and was the best defender on Steph Curry in a game when Curry basically couldn’t miss. His height and his length give us a good look during the games when Burke is struggling on the defensive end. Garrett had a couple of buzzer-beating shots to end quarters against the Warriors, and he had some really good assists off to the bigs or on a drive-and-dish to someone camping out at the three-point line in both the Golden State game and the Clippers game. Good job, Dennis Lindsey.
Garrett shot very poorly in December—28.6% from the floor—but dramatically increased that to 50.0% in January. He also shot 43.8% from three in January, up from 30.0% in December. His assist numbers in November were still the highest they’ve been during his time in Utah, but he was getting more time with first-team players at that point than he is now; still, his assist numbers increased slightly from 1.4 to 1.8 from December to January. What if Garrett, with his improved play, is able to fill in as a backup point guard to Trey Burke in a similar fashion to how Eric Maynor helped Damian Lillard last year? I found this blurb from the Oregon Live paper last season:
“[S]ince Maynor’s arrival, Lillard has experienced a substantial across-the-board increase in production that has only enhanced his already-high profile.”
In the 14 games since Maynor joined the Blazers, Lillard’s scoring has improved by nearly three points, from 18.4 to 21.2 per game, and his shooting numbers have soared. Lillard is shooting 7.1 percentage points better from the field (41.8 to 48.9) and almost 10 percentage points better from three-point range (34.9 to 44.6 percent) with Maynor on the roster.”
If Trey Burke is able to get out of his slump quickly, will Gordon Hayward then be able to get out of his? And is Diante Garrett the answer for Trey Burke’s slump? How quickly will it take for both Burke and Hayward to get out of their slumps? I think these are questions that will be very important for the Jazz long term, so it’ll be interesting to watch over the next several weeks.