Watching the Utah Jazz lately, it is obvious that Gordon Hayward is not playing up to his capabilities. During the Summer League, the preseason, and even the first few games of the regular season, Gordon Hayward looked like a totally different basketball player. He didn’t look scared, and he didn’t seem to lack the confidence that the true professionals possess. Watching him now, as he averages a team low in points per game (1.9) and field goal percentage (37.2), has me wondering where the young, exciting player from Butler has gone.
According to the 9th overall pick in the 2010 NBA Draft (via Deseret News):
“I just have to go out there and play basketball. But, right now, I feel like I’m just trying to do everything too ‘right.’ ”
But despite the youngster’s woes, Jerry Sloan has decided to keep Hayward in his current role as the backup to Raja Bell and as a starter when Bell is out. The reason behind this is that Sloan doesn’t want to break the spirit of a young, fragile guy like Hayward. To send a message to Hayward that he’s not good enough, and he doesn’t deserve to play the role that he’s played, will only exacerbate the problem and mess with his head.
It was a very rare occasion for the Jazz to be able to pick in the lottery last June, as this team is a perennial playoff team. But since they had that deal worked out with the New York Knicks, they were able to pick 9th, and they were able to take the budding star out of Butler. To give up on him so quickly, especially when the team has seen his capabilities, would be extremely foolish. He is clearly not comfortable right now, for whatever reason, but I doubt that this is something that is going to last long term. Hayward is only 20 years old, and he has a bunch of time to turn things around. If he doesn’t show some positive signs soon,though, it is only going to be a bigger mountain to climb to have to rebuild his confidence in the face of all the critics.
With all of the talk about Gordon Hayward, I thought it would be a good idea to have an Add A Caption Contest with Hayward as the target. What do you think is going on in Hayward’s head as he watches Monta Ellis scurry down the court? Make sure to make your responses as funny as possible and remember don’t hold anything back! The winner will be announced on Twitter (search #AACC) so don’t forget to leave your Twitter username in the response if you have one. Good luck!