The Jazz started off this critical 5 game stretch with a 90-84 win over the Memphis Grizzles on Saturday. The Grizzles are one of the hottest teams in the NBA right now and this was a big, quality win for the Utah Jazz. Not coincidentally, one of the best decisions Coach Ty Corbin has made all year helped lead the Jazz to victory and that was inserting Gordon Hayward into the starting lineup. This is a really big deal Jazz fans. Gordon Hayward has done enough to prove that he belongs in the starting lineup. Beside that though, the main reason he needs to be in the starting lineup is the type of game he plays. He is an engine. What do I mean by that? Gordon Hayward is the type of player that just makes everyone around him play better. He is a high basketball IQ guy as the experts say. He gets it. He knows what he has to do on both sides of the ball and he does it. When Hayward is in the court, the game has a different feel to it. His teammates take the game to another level, and it makes sense. When you’re playing with a guy that knows what he’s supposed to do and he does it day in and day out it’s addicting. Offensively, this team needs Gordon to score. He can, will, should, and does shoot the ball, but he’s also a willing passer. He’s not going to force the issue and he’s perfectly happy getting his teammates involved in the offense and they respond. This is especially important with this team because our starting point guard is not a true pass first point guard and is going to take his fair share of shots. So when you have another player that’s willing to pass the pass just as much if not more than the point guard, this keeps the offense balanced and the defense honest. He does the little things that make big differences in games.
I have been saying for months that Hayward needs to be in the starting lineup. The lineup of Mo Williams, Randy Foye, Marvin Williams, Paul Millsap, and Al Jefferson features to many selfish players trying to get theirs. DeMarre Carroll, bless his heart and hustle, is not a starter in this league. Gordon Hayward is a playmaker. A perfect example of this is in David Locke’s Emptying the Noggin on Saturday he said “Al Jefferson moved the ball on offense tonight.” This is what the starting lineup needs and the influence that Gordon Hayward can provide. Step 1 of the youth movement is now in full effect. Gordon Hayward is the best overall player of the core 4 and is showing that every game and has now paid off with this move. Don’t get me wrong, I think Derrick Favors is the most talented of the 4, but right now Hayward is the best player. Next year I hope to see Alec Burks and Derrick Favors move into the starting lineup to complete steps 2 and 3. Alec Burks needs to be playing more minutes than Earl Watson because he can fill that scoring void for the 2nd unit that Hayward provided and that is the next move I hope to see Corbin make this year. If the Jazz can get a win tonight vs the Knicks, a team they traditionally struggle against, I will be very excited for the Texas road trip. Let’s hope these 2 wins at home give the team the confidence they need to come home at least 2-1 on that trip for a 37-33 overall record through 70 games. The Gordon Hayward effect is on and not going away anytime soon!