Last as a Jazz fan I rooted for two things every night; a Jazz win and a Knicks loss. The reason being is that finally after all the years of the Knicks being terrible it was finally time for the Jazz to cash in on one of the more lopsided trades in history. In 2004 the Jazz gave up Keon Clark and Ben Handlogten for the Knicks protected 1st round pick. It was one of those *strange trades that still doesn't make much sense to me, 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 are the trade details from Gordon Hayward's basketball-reference.com's page: "Traded by the Phoenix Suns (as a 2010 1st round draft pick) with Tom Gugliotta, a 2004 1st round draft pick (Kirk Snyder) and a 2005 2nd round draft pick (Alex Acker) to the Utah Jazz for Keon Clark and Ben Handlogten."
Well the protection finally ended last year and the Jazz had the Knicks 1st round pick regardless of it was the 1st pick in the draft. The Knicks ended up tied with the Clippers for the 8th worst record in the league, which resulted in the 9th pick in the 2010 Draft. Finally the time had come for the Jazz to cash in on the pick they had been waiting for since the *days when Isiah Thomas thought Stephon Marbury was the point guard of the future for the Knicks.
*Side note - On the day after the trade was announced the Jazz ironically enough played the Knicks in Madison Square Garden. The leader scores in order for the Knicks that day were; Stephon Marbury, Tim Thomas, Shandon Anderson (remember him Jazz fans) and Penny Hardaway. THAT might be the best way of showing you how long ago the trade was. Oh yeah the Jazz won 92-78 and the first line of the recap on espn was "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 a 20 year old wirey forward who had led Bulter to the title game. There were some concerns from the beginning as Jazz fans booed the pick. For a great recap feel free to check out the Gordon Hayward to the Jazz post on June 25th of this year.
Now we are only 12 games into the season and even though I know that isn't much time and that Hayward still is four months away from being able to order a beer at the bar. I know all of these things. I also know that Coach Sloan can be tough on rookies and that even an All Star like Deron Williams struggled and even 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:
- Shooting ability - I know that because of the color of his skin, the fact that he is from Indiana and his reputation that most people think of Hayward as a great shooter. He is a good shooter 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. Now Andrei Kirilenko is a career 31.2% three point shooter and I would never classify Kirilenko as a good outsider shooter. The reason why is because the worst three point shooting team last year were the Pistons and they shot 31.4%. So to recap Hayward has a reputation as a shooter, but in his last year of college he wasn't even an average NBA shooter despite playing against worse competition and having the advantage of a shorter 3 point line. It is time to realize that Hayward just might not ever be a good shooter?
- Advanced numbers - What do you want to pick? Win Score/48 minutes = -.07. PER = 3.5. Simple rating on 82games.com = -22.1. You don't even have to know what these stats mean to realize that negative numbers are not good. The Jazz are losing by an average of 25 points per game when Hayward is on the court.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 is better 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).
I don't want to start worrying so soon about Gordon Hayward, but it is hard not to when I think about all the factors. If only one or two of the above were true, then I might be able to shake off my concerns a little bit easier. I might be able to better hear my former Stats professors at Miami University screaming at me "small sample size." Instead if I just keep thinking that if it isn't now, then when should we start worrying about Gordon Hayward?