Quantcast
Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
(Jeremy Harmon | The Salt Lake Tribune) Utah's Gordon Hayward is defended by Minnesota's Wes Johnson as the Jazz host the Timberwolves at EnergySolutions Arena Saturday, Jan. 21, 2012 in Salt Lake City.
Kragthorpe: Jazz’s Gordon Hayward responding to new job description
Jazz » With offensive role increased on second unit, he’s scoring more points.
First Published Mar 16 2012 11:18 am • Last Updated Mar 16 2012 11:56 pm

The explanation for Jazz forward Gordon Hayward’s emergence as a scorer, including his 26-point game Thursday against Minnesota, comes from his background in Indiana.

While spending all that time on the court while growing up in Brownsburg, he developed an aggressive style that overwhelmed most of his opponents.

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

Yeah, he was quite the tennis player.

In basketball, meanwhile, coaches constantly had to tell him to be more assertive. He obviously adjusted, once he became aware that his teams needed that kind of production from him.

So having studied Hayward during a series of interviews in his hometown last month, I’m convinced that his recent scoring surge is as much psychological as practical. In coming off the bench, he’s becoming a much bigger part of the offense and responding to the increased responsibility.

He’s expected to score now, and he’s scoring.

"I get a little more opportunity, a couple more touches, chances to make plays," Hayward said. "I just try to take advantage of them."

In the seven games since he went to the bench (counting a start in Raja Bell’s absence last weekend), Hayward has averaged 14.4 points.

"He understands that we’re going to put the ball in his hands and we look to him to make more plays with that second group," said Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin. "We’re able to go to him more and he can make plays and create for his teammates, and he’s comfortable doing that."

In other words, Hayward just keeps fulfilling his job description. That’s his nature. That’s why he thrived in tennis, where everything was up to him. While basketball coaches tried to make him become more aggressive offensively, "Thank heaven, I never had to say that," said Karen Starkey, a Brownsburg High School tennis coach.


story continues below
story continues below

With a game resembling that of 6-foot-9 pro John Isner, Hawyard was a big server whose height and reach made him an intimidating presence at the net.

Hayward, who turns 22 next week, is a product of his parents, who were high school athletes in Brownsburg. His mother led her team in assists as a center. That nurturing trait, mixed with his father’s competitive nature, shaped Hayward’s personality.

It makes for an intriguing package in basketball, which is both an individual and team game, if you think about it. Succeeding in the NBA takes just the right amount of selfishness — or at least a player’s recognition that the team needs something from him.

That’s how Hayward developed into a star at Butler University, once he realized what was necessary. Butler coach Brad Stevens said the staff always had to tell Hayward how good he was, during his two years in college before becoming the No. 9 pick in the 2010 NBA draft.

So it is easy to understand why he would defer to his teammates as a starter, while functioning as a fourth or fifth option. With the reserves, who play mostly together at the start of the second and fourth quarters, Hayward knows he’s a vital part of the offense. He remains an adept passer but is much more inclined to drive to the basket and look for shots.

That has carried over now, even when he’s mixed in with the starters. A combination of Bell’s foul trouble and the other reserves’ strong play enabled Hayward to get nearly 38 minutes of action in Thursday’s overtime win. He took 17 shots (making nine). In a three-game stretch in February, as a starter, Hayward took a total of 16 shots.

Corbin attributes the increased production to Hayward’s bigger opportunity. I would cite Hayward’s feeling of greater responsibility. In Brownsburg, they would say we’re both right.

kkragthorpe@sltrib.com



Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment


About Reader Comments


Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Videos
Jobs
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Access your e-Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.