Zach Lowe on Gordon Hayward
posted at 12/3/2013 2:07 PM EST
Have at it. It seems like Zach and I feel the same about Hayward. Nice 2nd or 3rd option on a good team.....
"Life as a first option on a bad team is cruel. Hayward shot a horrific 20-of-74 over his last six games before snapping out of it Monday against Houston, and he's shooting just 40 percent for the season — including an icy 29 percent from 3-point range. Hayward's turnover rate has jumped to its highest level since his rookie season, and he's been especially shaky on the pick-and-roll — a play the Jazz have Hayward running more and more as he ascends to the lead-dog role on a team no longer sporting a post-up threat that requires automatic double teams.
Hayward has turned the ball over on 23.8 percent of the pick-and-rolls he has finished, the sixth-worst mark in the league among 58 guys who have run at least 50 of those suckers, per Synergy Sports.4
There's nothing all that wrong with Hayward's off-the-bounce game. It just isn't worthy of undisputed top-option status, which is why Trey Burke's strong early play is such a good sign for Utah. Hayward is a bit predictable with the ball, and he doesn't have the change-of-pace calm or killer midrange pull-up every pick-and-roll guy must have. He either picks up his dribble too early, before he has really punctured the defense, or drives hard to the rim — and into a waiting crowd.
A hard drive is a good thing, but Hayward lacks either the speed to blow by help defenders or the trickery to go around them. And when he drives himself into tight spots along the baseline, defenders all over the floor can pounce into passing lanes as Hayward desperately tries to steady himself and find an out. Trap Hayward far out on the floor and he's likely to pick up his dribble in a panic, leap into the air, and toss a cross-court jump pass ripe for the picking.
Hayward has all the passes in his bag, and his assists are up as Utah's lead playmaker. And he has managed that on a team that had to move Marvin Williams into the starting lineup as a small-ball power forward to generate just a smidgen of spacing. Seriously: Nobody guards half of Utah's players, leaving Hayward zero space and no easy passing lanes. And forget those wide-open spot-up looks Hayward could count on in prior seasons. If the other Jazz men don't merit much attention, that means Hayward's guy is a step or two closer to Hayward.
Hayward isn't yet good enough to succeed in that kind of situation. He can take what a defense gives — the pocket pass, the kick to a weakside shooter — but he cannot yet create anything more."