Mar 27, 2013; Salt Lake City, UT, USA; Utah Jazz shooting guard Gordon Hayward (20) goes up for a dunk during the second half against the Phoenix Suns at EnergySolutions Arena. The Jazz won 103-88. Mandatory Credit: Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

Utah Jazz: Is Gordon Hayward the Next Paul George?

Is Gordon Hayward the Next Paul George?

Broox Anderson

St. George, Utah—1:15 p.m.

Immediately after the July Team USA minicamp in Las Vegas, Nevada, it seemed as if almost every news and media outlet had something unexpectedly positive to say about Gordon Hayward and his performance.

“I gained some confidence, for sure. I gained some respect probably from other people,” Hayward explained. “I just tried to get better through this week, and I think I did.”

Coach Tyrone Corbin, who watched the Team USA minicamp, added that, “It doesn’t matter who he’s playing with or against; he’s showing his talents more, and that’s what we want.”

Numerous articles were written in the aftermath of the camp in which Gordon was tagged specifically as one of the few select players who stood out among the rest. And of course, the rest were future all-stars and promising young players. That fact makes it so much sweeter.

Even more impressive is the fact that Hayward didn’t wow people with his talents on offense or defense, but on both ends of the floor. For a Jazz team utterly lacking in that category last year, it’s a hopeful exhibition.

Now, as we move ever closer toward the season, it’s hard not to expect great things from No. 20. He’s shown steady improvement in each of his three seasons, and in this, his fourth season, Gordon has been given the opportunity to rise to those expectations—to show us all how good he can be. The multi-million dollar question thus becomes, Is Gordon Hayward the next Paul George?

As many can recall, the Jazz had an opportunity to select Paul George in the 2010 NBA Draft. They held the ninth overall selection. However, the Jazz opted to pick Butler’s own heroic Gordon Hayward. Paul George didn’t last long, though; the Indiana Pacers used the tenth overall selection to add the Fresno State product. It is this eternal bond, as the ninth- and tenth-overall picks, that leads to the continuing comparisons.

Gordon joined a Utah team that sported stars like Deron Williams, Andrei Kirilenko, Paul Millsap, and Al Jefferson. He was effectively at the bottom of the hierarchy—a baby-faced rookie that clashed with all-star point guard Deron Williams.

Paul George, more or less, joined the same situation in Indiana, vying for time behind veteran wings Danny Granger, Brandon Rush, and Mike Dunleavy. George, however, was always touted for his physical gifts and potential. He played, on average, 20.7 minutes per night in his first season in the NBA and averaged 7.8 points and 3.7 rebounds.

Hayward, at a mere 16.9 minutes per night, had a hard time excelling in his rookie campaign. It became even more difficult after head coach Jerry Sloan quit and Deron Williams was traded. His averages reflected his difficulties, to the tune of 5.4 points and 1.9 rebounds.

George’s minutes jumped to 29.7 in his sophomore season, and he upped his production to 12.1 points, 2.4 assists, and 5.6 rebounds. Hayward’s minutes surprisingly jumped even higher, to 30.4 per outing. Gordon, however, couldn’t quite match statistically at 11.8 points, 3.1 assists, and 3.5 rebounds.

Oddly enough, Gordon’s minutes dipped the next year, but his statistical output still improved: 29.2 minutes, 14.1 points, 3.0 assists, and 3.1 rebounds. Keep in mind that Hayward was relegated to a bench role.

With Indiana’s Danny Granger going down with a knee injury, Paul George, in his third year, found himself in an early position to excel. His stats exploded to 37.6 minutes, 17.4 points, 4.1 assists, and 7.6 rebounds per night.

As we transition to the present, it is now Gordon Hayward’s turn to improve. Will he reach the level of Paul George—an Eastern Conference All-Star? Looking solely at last year, these stats seem to be foreshadowing:

  • 41.5 percent, Gordon’s three-point marksmanship outmuscles George’s by more than five percent.
  • 1.7 to 2.9 TO, Gordon’s turnovers per game in comparison to Paul George’s disconcerting errors.
  • 1.7 to 2.9 PF, Hayward’s personal fouls per game vs. George.
  • 4.1 to 3.5 FTA, Hayward attempts more free throws per game (in less minutes).
  • 43.5 percent to 41.9 percent, the difference in field goal percentage between Hayward and George, respectively.

The most impressive number? 16.8—Paul George’s PER (player efficiency rating). Gordon’s PER? 16.8.

Moreover, Hayward’s per-36 minute projections for next year are: 16.2 points, 3.6 assists, and 4.1 rebounds. As great as these numbers look, we can expect even more production from Gordon. The projection doesn’t account for Gordon’s new position as the team’s best offensive option, and the stats are per-36 minutes—meaning, of course, that they are a deflated projection if Hayward plays more than 36 minutes per game. He’ll almost assuredly play close to forty minutes per night.

Hayward is due for a fiery breakout. The stats tell all. By next year, the question may just be: “Can Paul George be as good as Gordon Hayward?”

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Broox Anderson
Staff Writer
Purple and Blues | A Utah Jazz Fan Site

Twitter: @BrooxAnderson
Facebook: Broox’s Profile
Email: [email protected]
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Tags: Analysis Association Basketball Butler California Dixie Featured Fresno George Gordon Hayward Indiana Jazz League National NBA Pacers Paul Popular Preview Rumors State Statistics Stats Summer Team Trade University USA Utah Utah Jazz

  • JoshFarc

    Enjoyed the in depth article. Well written.

    • Broox Anderson

      Thanks, Josh!

  • Grant Oxenrider

    love it! good article! its funny how most people laugh when you mention GH being as good as Paul G. the argument is that PG is way better on D but i gotta disagree. GH is very underrated there because he shared the court with defensive holes A jeff and P mill, foye, alot of times so he can compare equally and whats funny is if you search youtube of gh vs pg the videos are of gh punking pg. i didnt see pg punking gh at all. i like both players alot, but i think gh is every bit as good as pg right now. the difference is pg was the #1 OPTION alot and gh was #4. so i think gh will exceed pg’s numbers this year in scoring ,fg% and assists but i feel gh will be far lower in rebs. Both great and upcoming stars! i loved PG in the playoffs he was huge impact! how can u not love the guy!

    • Grant Oxenrider

      also im not sure there is a better chase down blocker in the league than gordan hayward. anytime there was a fast break the other way it seemed GH was right there and blocking a easy 2. he did it so many times! it was awesome to watch! Cant wait to see if GH breaks out hardcore this season. I dont think 20ppg is out of question!

  • Joe

    Methinks you need to slow down a bit sir, Hayward will not be better than George, espcially next year. The more PF’s an TO’s come with the fact that he has added responsibility (as well as more minutes) and being the top defensive and offensive option on the team. Heck, he averaged less TO’s last year than LeBron, Westbrook, Durant, and Kobe etc.

  • T-Dub

    This is a dumb article. GH has been in the league just as long as PG and he is the player that he’s going to be now and that’s it, don’t get your hopes up. Why do you think the Jazz are tanking this year, because they’re looking for a franchise player and his name is not GH.

  • MrRoundtree17

    Great article and very interesting to see the statistical breakdown. For the commenters that can see the future and say, without question, Hayward will not be as good as George, this article is written precisely for you. As a Jazz fan, it’s nothing new to get little attention, plus disrespect, when discussing the league as a whole, especially when talking about an unassuming, skinny white kid with rosy cheeks. Having watched Hayward at Butler and since he entered the NBA, I’ll say just wait and see, but don’t be surprised when you hear his name frequently in the coming years.