Kragthorpe: Jazz's Hayward not scarred by Spurs
Gordon Hayward took a pass in the left corner and quickly launched a jump shot.
In that moment, early in the Jazz's scrimmage Saturday at EnergySolutions Arena, Hayward showed there would be no long-lasting effects of his disastrous shooting performance against San Antonio in the playoffs.
Five months after an 0-for-7 night sent him and the rest of the Jazz into the offseason, Hayward's offense was Saturday's biggest story.
So maybe the defenders were a mixture of genuine Jazzmen and training camp temps, as opposed to the Spurs, but Hayward's performance was impressive. He looked a lot more like a player whose confidence grew from competing against the U.S. Olympic team this past summer than someone who was scarred by San Antonio.
Scoring on a variety of shots coming off a screen, spotting up in the corner for a 3-pointer and driving to the basket Hayward scored 16 points in the first quarter. Leading the White team to a 62-58 victory, he finished with 21 points on 6-of-8 shooting, playing about 20 of the 24 minutes.
Prior to Friday's practice, coach Tyrone Corbin described the third-year player as "just getting more comfortable and trusting his shot," and Hayward demonstrated that in the scrimmage.
So the Spurs may have stopped him, but they did not ruin him.
He viewed his 6-of-33 shooting during that four-game sweep in a proper frame. "You use it as motivation, use it as experience, you learn from it and move on," Hayward said. "There's no point in dwelling on it."
Hayward's USA Basketball experience in helping the Olympic team prepare for London "just reaffirmed that I belong in this league and I can play with top players," he said.
At home in Indianapolis for the rest of the summer, Hayward delivered a daily dose of shots that numbered "in the hundreds," he said. That workload was merely part of his offseason routine, not necessarily driven by memories of San Antonio. If anything, he was building on his success in the second half of the season, when he became much more willing to shoot.
In the Jazz's offense, "You've got to shoot if you're open," Hayward said. "You can't let the defense not guard you."
Of course, the Spurs did defend him. Jazz general manager Dennis Lindsey, who formerly worked in San Antonio, remarked how his new team could benefit from the playoff experience of being thoroughly scouted and feeling the stress of having favored looks taken away.
So the actual proof of Hayward's recovery can come only in the 2013 playoffs a much different environment than Saturday's event. Yet this exercise was a good start for him. New teammate Marvin Williams already was impressed by Hayward's work in camp.
"He really knows how to play," Williams said. "He's physically gifted, he's tall, he can guard, he can run."
That left only shooting, a subject that Hayward covered nicely Saturday.