Nothing excites me more than a player who contributes a little bit of everything, yet isn’t particularly strong in any particular area of the game. You know, those quiet players you slot in your utility position who bolster several statistical categories but ask for little in return.  Well Gordon Hayward is one of those unsung ballers. While he looks (and is treated) like a scrawny 12-year-old boy, don’t be discouraged from drafting the young swingman from Butler. While his overall numbers from last year aren’t overly impressive (11.8 points, 3.5 boards, 3.1 assists, 0.8 treys, 0.8 steals, and 0.6 blocks), his moderate contributions across the board along with solid shooting percentages (45.6 FG% and 83.2 FT%) get my sleeper senses tingling. As I said before, nothing turns me on like a wide range of statistics. In fact, when I am getting intimate with a fine broad, instead of whispering sweet nothings into my ear, I have her recite stats to me. Her: “Ersan Ilyasova recorded 20 double-doubles last year.” Me: “Uh huh, tell me more!” Her: “Nikola Pekovic had a higher PER than Pau Gasol last season.” Me: “Oh, now you’re talking dirty!” So you could say I look forward to drafting Hayward (if you weren’t able to say that, I’d be worried that you had a speech impediment).

First off, at the ripe age of 22, Hayward’s got room to improve on that statistical diversity I was drooling over earlier. He rubs his elbows with butter before every game (similar to LeBron’s powder toss) so his shot is buttery smooth. His assists are fairly strong for a small forward, so he becomes even more valuable if your top-tier draft picks are of the selfish variety. The kid has also got some hops, “He brews great beer?” No Literal Larry, I mean he is super athletic. His 0.6 blocks don’t really back me up, but he is lanky and I have seen him get up and reject some tough shots last season, so take that for what it’s worth. I could see him improving on that number and being closer to a block per game type of player with consistent playing time. And lastly but most importantly, Hayward has a secure spot in the starting rotation. Last season there was a short period where Raja Bell inexplicably was starting in place of Hayward, which made no sense because even the Bobcats look at Bell and think, “Thanks, but no thanks.” The only real threat to Hayward’s minutes currently on the Jazz’s roster is the inconsistent C.J. Miles, and he isn’t even under contract next year. With a slight improvement in each category, Hayward could go from “eh” to “ayyyyyyyye!” next season.

  1. Fenris-77 says:

    Yeah, Hayward’s intriguing. A five point bump in Ast% set next to a 2.5 bump in USG% while actually dropping his TOV% by 3.5 points makes it looks like he’s figuring shizz out at the NBA level. Or he got lucky, but lets let that narrative meme go for now. I think he’s got more room for 3’s and points as his USG% rises, but possibly at the risk of further losses in FG% (his eFG% and TS% both dropped last year with higher usage, so the risk is there if his usage rises again).

    I’m not sold on a huge bump in Blk though. He improved incrementally, but he doesn’t strike me as a 1+ Blk guy. He never blocked more than a shot a game in college, and I’d normally expect that at the NCAA level before I expect it in the NBA. I think it’s more reasonable to optimistically predict something like .8 per and go home happy.

  2. JashFath

    JashFath says:

    Yeah, I was a bit too optimistic with my block projections. Must have had one too many whiskeys while writing this. Or it could have had something to do with Hayward dropping monster blocks whenever he plays my Dubs, who make all of the opposition look better than they actually are. Either way, I agree that 0.8 is more a realistic and sober prediction.

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