When should Jazz fans start worrying about Gordon Hayward?

November 19th, 2010 | by K.Malphurs

In 2004 the Jazz gave up Keon Clark and Ben Handlogten in a trade with the Phoenix Suns, who had recently fleeced the New York Knicks. It was one of those strange trades that still don’t make much sense, but it worked out great for the Jazz*. Clark and Handlogten never played a minute for any other NBA team besides the Jazz. Somehow the Jazz got Gugliotta, a 2004 1st round draft pick and this protected Knicks pick. Here’s how NBA.com described the trade before the draft:

It was Feb. 19, 2004, when O’Connor and the Jazz sent backup centers Handlogten and Clark (who played in two games for Utah) to the Suns. In return, they got Gugliotta, the No. 16 pick in 2004 (Kirk Snyder), a 2005 second-round selection (which they traded), cash, and the Knicks’ No. 1 pick, a pick they probably coulnd’t use until some ridiculous wait forever into the future — 2010. Phoenix had no idea it would turn into this. No one did, because it was impossible to see the Summer of LeBron coming six years away.

Knicks president Donnie Walsh gets the heartache, but not the blame. His predecessor, Isiah Thomas, did the deal (on Jan. 5, 2004) to acquire Stephon Marbury, Penny Hardaway and Cezary Trybanski from the Suns for Antonio McDyess, Howard Eisley, Charlie Ward, Maciej Lampe, the rights to Milos Vujanic and two first-round picks. Phoenix flipped one of the picks to the Jazz about six weeks later.

*Side note – Coincidentally, the Jazz played the Knicks in Madison Square Garden the day after the trade was announced. The scoring leaders for the Knicks that day were Stephon Marbury, Tim Thomas, Shandon Anderson (remember him Jazz fans?) and Penny Hardaway. That’s how long ago the trade happened. Oh yeah, the Jazz won 92-78. The ESPN recap began thusly: “Stephon Marbury had an unhappy 27th birthday, getting booed at Madison Square Garden in a Friday night fiasco.”

With the 9th pick in the 2010 NBA draft the Jazz took Gordon Hayward from Butler University to help replace the impending departures of Kyle Korver and Wes Matthews. Hayward was America’s darling after leading Bulter to the NCAA title game and very nearly winning the whole thing. Unfortunately for Hayward, his whiteness and overall appearance as a tall Jr. Jazz player, combined with the built up anticipation Jazz fans had after waiting years to steal the pick from the Knicks led to boos in the ESA on draft night.

The season is only 12 games old and Hayward is still four months away from being able to order a beer at the bar. Even future All-Star Deron Williams struggled was benched for Keith McLeod for 32 games. Still I can’t help but worry about Hayward. Here are the top 5 things that worry me:

  1. Shooting ability – Due to congenital whiteness and the fact that he is from Indiana, many people assume that Hayward is a great shooter. It’s true, as long as we are talking about free throws. As for three pointers, he shot 29.4% last year…in college…with most of his games being in the Horizon League. In comparison, Andrei Kirilenko is a career 31.2% three point shooter and I would never classify Kirilenko as a good outsider shooter. The worst three point shooting team last year was the Pistons and they shot 31.4%. In Hayward’s last year of college he wasn’t even an average NBA shooter despite playing against weak competition and having the advantage of a shorter 3 point line. Coach Thorpe asks the important question: “‘Is he the good shooter we saw during his freshman year, or the below average one from his sophomore season?’ Thus far in his NBA career, the answer has been the latter. And that’s a problem.”
  2. Advanced numbers – What do you want to pick? Win Score/48 minutes = -.05. PER = 3.8. Simple rating on 82games.com = -17. Negative numbers are not good. The Jazz are losing by an average of 25 points per game when Hayward is on the court.
  3. Draft Potential – Coming out of the draft Hayward was rated as the 17th best talent using John Hollinger’s Draft Rater. Hayward’s peak PER prediction was 11.87, which would have placed him in between Wes Matthews and CJ Miles production from last year. Again this is Hayward’s peak PER that should happen in years 4-5.
  4. The Miss – I don’t know if anyone has ever received more credit for a miss than Hayward did with his halfcourt heave that almost beat Duke.  The only comparison I can think of is Charlie Weis getting an extension for almost beating USC in the “Bush Push” game. Maybe he wouldn’t have needed a shot like that to win if Hayward had hit more than two of his previous ten shots? While the 8-8 from the line is great, it is a little concerning that against Duke he was only 2-11 from the field and 0-3 from three pointers.
  5. Jazz 1st round pick history – This is not fair for Hayward, but it is hard to judge him without thinking about former first round busts; Kosta Koufus, Morris Almond, Kris Humphries, Kirk Synder or Sasha Pavlovic. What kind of odds would you give Jazz fans right now that the Jazz 2nd round pick Jeremy Evans will have a better career than Gordon Hayward? Does anybody else feel like this might shape up like the 2006 draft when the 2nd round pick (Millsap) was better than the 1st round pick (Brewer).

It’s too soon to worry about Gordon Hayward, but it is hard not ignore the signs. If only one or two of the above were true, it might be easier to shake off my concerns. It also might be easier to hear my former Stats professors screaming “small sample size.” Instead, as pointed out by fellow SCH contributor Mychal Lowman, I find myself cheering for him like a supportive parent rather than a fan. I keep thinking “Good job, Hayward. Good eye, son.”  Which is not what we should expect from a number 9 pick in the draft.

Kevin O’Connor has a smug way of trying to prove people wrong through his personnel decisions but it stings to see Wesley Matthews dropping 30 points in Portland and have Hayward just looking thrilled to be there.

To his credit, Hayward seems mentally strong and understands that it’s a long season and he’s still adjusting to the NBA. His teammates like him and everyone in the organization seems prepared to be patient and allow him to make progress without a lot of pressure. The upcoming homestand for the Jazz will be a great opportunity for Hayward to make some progress.


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  1. Jefferson says:

    Maybe the kid needs a stint in the D-League? You know some game time will help him develop his game. I don’t think that 11 per game is going to be enough to get the kid up to NBA speed.

    • Koda says:

      I enjoyed it a lot, but I think some otihrwese terrific bloggers have a tough time looking at their own team objectively. Hope sometimes interferes with reality. The Knicks have come a long way since the days of Isiah, but IMHO a lot of mistakes were made along the way. We were just so used to ineptness, incompetence, and classless behavior that very higher quality individuals that only make 1 or 2 mistakes a year seem like superstars in comparison. This teams still has a lot of holes, few picks, not much cap space, few tradeable assets, and I would argue a mismatch of players to each other and a mismatch of players to the coach. I see a 50 win year next year, but I’m having a tough time picturing this team becoming a serious contender in the next few years. It would require adding a true superstar player like Howard or CP3 and I don’t see how we pull that off with such limited cap space and nothing to trade. To be honest, I see this team as being in the exact position you never want to be in. It’s way too good to ever get a decent pick (not that we have any anyway), doesn’t have the cap space to add all it needs, and doesn’t have the youthful upside to develop into a champion. I see this team as a different version of the Atlanta Hawks. It will win between 45-55 games every year, play some very exciting basketball and even win some tough series in the playoffs, but it will never really be a serious contender. Any hope of that went out the window when the team was totally gutted of all it’s upside and assets in a panicked move to get Melo.

  2. D-Money says:

    While the 8-8 from the line is great, it is a little concerning that against Duke he was only 2-11 from the field and 0-3 from three pointers.”

    Are you serious? One game, and you’re “a little concerned”?

  3. Justin says:

    KO’C, smug? I guess I’m not a long-term enough reader of your thoughts to know whether you like KO’C, but the idea that he’s “smug,” or that he needs to “prove people wrong through his personnel decisions” is … incorrect.

    In the NBA right now, the universe of GMs who are in KO’C’s class quality is: R.C. in San Antonio. That’s it. That’s the list. For all the Darryl Morey-fellating and Sam Presti-fantasizing in the quant world, there’s nobody else who has built a sustained, top-eight franchise with such limited resources and no Tim Duncan.

    Since the Decimation of the Franchise, KO’C has drafted D-Will, Brewer, Millsap, Matthews, and, lord forgive me, Miles and Fes; he has acquired Raja Bell (twice), Boozer, Okur, Fisher, Korver, and Al. He’s exempt from petty criticism.

  4. bigjonlam says:

    I have to wonder how much of these 1st round busts can be blamed on Jerry and his inability to nurture talent. I’m sure he sees things we don’t in practice, but some of these guys could have turned into something, even if it was just slightly more than they were, if they got the minutes. A rookie starting with the Jazz can expect to just float off into the ether for the most part, cuz Jerry won’t give them a chance. I’m not big on Hayward, we never should have picked him and only did cuz he’s white and we like “character” guys. I’m just saying in general, Jerry is NOT the right coach for young players.

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