As I watched people’s negative reactions to the Utah Jazz choosing Gordon Hayward as the 9th overall selection in the 2010 NBA, I thought, “Wow, some people have minds like cement: all mixed up and permanently set.”
Every Jazz fan bemoaning Hayward’s selection says the Jazz should have got a big man to go up against the Lakers’ bigs. That’s a lovely fantasy, but in reality, quality big men are a premium and go early in the draft.
Here’s a quick big man reality check for Jazz fans:
Pau Gasol was the #3 pick of the 2001 draft.
Dwight Howard was the #1 pick of the 2004 draft.
Chris Bosh was the #4 pick of the 2003 draft.
In terms of a center, the best the Jazz could have done with #9 is Cole Aldrich, a good choice to be sure, but he isn’t projected by anyone to be the next Pau Gasol — or Andrew Bynum for that matter.
By passing on Aldrich, the Jazz are showing they understand their BIGGEST problem. Defense.
Jazz fans MISTAKENLY believe they lost to the Lakers in the 2010 playoffs because the Jazz lacked size.
That’s not really the case.
Against the Jazz, Pau Gasol averaged 23.5 points, and Andrew Bynum averaged 7.8 points.
That’s not exactly domination.
Besides, believe it or not, the Jazz are actually bigger than the Lakers.
Kyrylo Fesenko: Height: 7-1, Weight: 288 lbs.
Andrew Bynum: Height: 7-0, Weight: 285 lbs.
Kosta Koufos: Height: 7-0, Weight: 265 lbs.
Pau Gasol: Height: 7-0, Weight: 227 lbs.
Mehmet Okur: Height: 6-11, Weight: 249 lbs.
Lamar Odom: Height: 6-10, Weight: 220 lbs.
I guess that is why the mantra in the playoffs is “Defense wins championships,” not “size wins championships.”
I am NOT saying that the Jazz couldn’t use better “bigs,” because they obviously could, but their bigger problem is defense.
Like the Jazz, the Boston Celtics also lacked size up front, yet because of their commitment to defense, they took the Lakers to the very brink.
While Gordon Hayward obviously doesn’t meet the Jazz’s need for a top quality center, Hayward has a tremendous upside Jazz fans should be excited about.
FYI, here are some excerpts from Gordon Hayward’s scouting report on NBA.com:
- “Tough kid. Battles everything. Fabulous passer. Improves his teammates by getting them in position to have success. Versatile.”
- “Facilitator. Gets people good looks. Can play any of three positions 1, 2 or 3.”
- “Clutch: No matter the score his team always battled and he was usually in the middle of it. They could be down 10 and they always got the game back in reach.”
- “Frees himself with the dribble. Good penetration moves. Has tight handle. Showed strong left hand drive to the basket, also showed a cross over. Wants to go left but will go right. “
- “Plays the passing game well off the pick and roll. Quick making the pass to the opposite corner.”
- “Outside J has good quick release. Jumper doesn’t look comfortable. Shot 44% as a freshman and is struggling in sophomore year.”
- “Tight solid handle. Able to free himself from defender with dribble but usually uses it then to make a pass rather than convert on his own. Comfortable going to coast to coast. Works well in traffic.”
- “Goes into paint with intention to pass, Can run the point in the NBA.”
- “Very smart on defensive end. Doesn’t get beat. Not afraid of contact.”
- “In Butler’s system gets matched against big 7 footers and battles. Rarely gets beat.”
- “Only once in the national championship did anyone drive at him and score.”
- “Very good court awareness. Gets into passing lanes and makes plays by understanding where the next pass is going to be.”
- “Got matched on Zoubek, Duke’s 7 footer and got overpowered but battled. Battled his butt off.”
- “Then got matched on Monroe and same thing battled and even blocked a Monroe shot. Huge effort in a mismatch. “
- “Good position, doesn’t give away driving lanes.”
- “Quick and moves well, Former Tennis player and you can tell.”
- “Rebounding: EVERY POSSESSION. Battles with body contact on every possession.”
- “More of a box out guy then a rebound guy. Often screens out face guarding his man just pushing him out with his back to the basket allowing his teammates to pull down the board.”
That last bullet point is good news for Carlos Boozer and Paul Millsap.
Gordon Hayward doesn’t meet the Jazz need for a great center, but he does appear to about to help the Jazz with their greatest deficiency: defense, and Hayward looks like a great fit for the Jazz offense.
The Jazz lead the NBA last season in assists. Hayward is a great passer and decision maker. Hayward looks like the kind of guy who will keep that ball moving and keep the Jazz offense moving forward.
There could well be trades in the works that we know nothing about, but if next year’s team is going to be staffed with pretty much the same personnel as last year’s, then I like the idea of starting Hayward as a shooting guard.
Deron Williams is a shooter, so having a passing 2 guard like Hayward isn’t a bad idea. And having a defensive minded 2 guard, particularly in the Western Conference, isn’t a bad idea too, particularly if he has length.
No one has a crystal ball, but Gordon Hayward looks to be a great pick for the Utah Jazz.