Utah Jazz: Gordon Hayward motivated by Paul George's All-Star selection
Los Angeles • Gordon Hayward and Paul George will always be linked. They play the same position and were drafted back-to-back in the 2010 draft. The Jazz picked Hayward ninth, one spot ahead of George, leaving the former Fresno State star for Hayward's hometown Indiana Pacers.
Both third-year veterans have found success. But while Hayward has struggled at times with consistency and is growing into his role off the bench, George is the man for the Pacers. He averages 17.3 points and 7.8 rebounds. And on Thursday, he became the first member of Hayward's draft class to be selected to an All-Star Game.
"Just extremely happy for him," Hayward said. "It's cool to see guys from your class become All-Stars."
George leads the Pacers (26-17) into Salt Lake City on Saturday when the Jazz play their second game in as many nights.
Hayward said George's selection as an Eastern Conference reserve fueled his own desire to become an All-Star.
"It motivates you," Hayward said. "You want to be an All-Star in this league and when you see guys that are already doing it, you've just got to put in that much more work to try to get there."
Hayward averages 13.5 points per game this season. He has come off the bench for the last 32 games after starting the first 10.
"I think it puts a little bit of a timeframe on it," Hayward said, "and it shows that somebody else has done it so why can't it be you? It just means there's a lot more work to be done."
Will anyone go to Houston?
Despite not having an All-Star, the Jazz won't necessarily go unrepresented during the festivities next month in Houston. A Jazz player could still be selected to participate in events such as the 3-point contest or the slam-dunk contest.
Sparingly used Jazz forward Jeremy Evans won the dunk contest last year after being invited as a late replacement. He said Friday that he has not been notified whether he will be invited back, a courtesy that is generally extended to the player that won the competition the year before.
"Hopefully we'll know something next week," said Evans.
Other possibilities for the Jazz? Randy Foye entered Friday tied for fifth in 3-point shooting at 44 percent, so a shootout appearance would make sense. Enes Kanter and Alec Burks are both in their second years and could be selected to the Rising Stars Challenge, the rosters for which will be selected by Charles Barkley and Shaquille O'Neal.