The new-look Utah Jazz are counting on a breakout season by Gordon Hayward.
So far, so good.
According to coach Tyrone Corbin, Hayward has gotten off to good start during the first three days of training camp.
“His maturity, his body, his mental state,” Corbin said Thursday morning. “… I think he understands what he’s getting ready to face. The experiences he’s had the last couple of years is really starting to show.”
With veterans like Al Jefferson, Paul Millsap, Randy Foye and Mo Williams no longer in the locker room, Hayward is apparently taking his role as a team leader to heart.
“… He’s more open with his teammates,” Corbin said. “He’s starting to talk to them more. He’s starting to lead them more with his voice. He’ll raise his voice a little bit to let them know what he’s thinking — what he sees on the court. And it’s always to help the team get better.”
Hayward says he’s worked on improving his speed and quickness. He weighed 220 pounds at the start of camp, although he expects to be down to 215 by the time the season begins.
“I wanted to make sure I came in faster than I was last year,” Hayward said. “… In basketball you want to be as fast as you can out there, so I tried to do that during the offseason.”
Burke enjoying being challenged
Rookie point guard Trey Burke insists he’s “enjoying” his first NBA training camp, although he admits two-a-day practices are a challenge.
“… It is tough on our bodies,” he said. “I just have to make sure I’m getting the proper amount of rest.”
Although Corbin is not close to naming his starters, it’s clear the Jazz have high hopes for Burke.
“There is a lot being thrown at me at me,” he said. “But I’m learning at a high rate. … I think I’m doing a good job of getting everybody involved and making shots when the shots are there. I’m doing a good job learning my teammates. The chemistry is coming along.”
Burke struggled with his shooting during the Orlando Summer League, although it apparently hasn’t been an issue behind closed doors during camp.
“It was just a mental thing,” he said, referring to his shooting issues last summer. “I missed a couple of shots and the confidence started to go down.
“But coming back out here with the new teammates, I think I’m doing a good job getting into a rhythm … and when the shot is there, knocking it down.”
Newcomers working to impress
The Jazz have 20 players on the roster, meaning there is a battle raging among the newcomers to impress the coaching staff. Corbin declined to single out any individuals, but said the players new to the Jazz’s system have all worked diligently.
“I hate to single one guy out because I don’t want to miss anybody,” Corbin said. “But the guys who are here are really good for this camp. They’ve pushed each other every day. All the drills are competitive. They’ve gotten better as they’ve gotten more and more comfortable.”