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Past Fantasy Outlooks
After seven seasons of continuous improvement in Utah, top free agent Gordon Hayward made the big jump to Boston, reuniting with his college coach, Brad Stevens. The move certainly improves Hayward’s chances of making his first NBA Finals, as the small forward will now avoid the meat grinding process of the Western Conference playoffs. But will Hayward’s scoring decrease in an effort to appease new teammates Kyrie Irving and Al Horford? Last year in Utah, no teammate came close to Hayward’s 15.8 shot attempts per game. But Irving, taking Isaiah Thomas’ spot, attempted 19.7 shots per game last year for Cleveland and is expected to continue gunning for Boston. It will be interesting to see how Hayward handles being the second option. Expect Stevens to design offensive sets that play to Hayward’s strengths. The more curious dilemma for Stevens could be how to develop first round picks Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum, both small forwards, when arguably the franchise’s best player is deeply entrenched above them on the depth chart. But that isn’t Hayward’s problem. Expect the kids to play out of position while Hayward and Irving form one of the league’s most dynamic duos.
While his production didn’t take a quantum leap forward in 2015-16, Hayward still managed to increase his scoring for a fifth straight season, averaging a team-high 19.7 points per game. Without key contributors Derrick Favors, Rudy Gobert and Alec Burks around for large swaths of the season while each battled injuries, Hayward was forced to shoulder more of the offensive burden than anticipated, resulting in his efficiency from the field (43.3%) and three-point range (34.9%) taking a step back from the year prior. Those slippages notwithstanding, Hayward is still undeniably the Jazz’s go-to option, and his helpful contributions in assists and rebounds have turned him into one of the top fantasy players at his position and a borderline All-Star. With the Jazz beefing up their roster this offseason by adding veterans George Hill, Joe Johnson and Boris Diaw and getting Dante Exum back from a torn ACL, Hayward will be surrounded by more talent than ever before during his time in Utah, which could be a double-edged sword of sorts. While the Jazz attack now profiles as more of a well-oiled machine that should be capable of taking some of the pressure off Hayward to create offense, it also means that there’s more mouths to feed, likely translating to fewer shot attempts and minutes for the small forward. Hayward’s percentages and the field and three-point land may stand to benefit from the team’s roster construction, but a slight downturn in counting stats is likely in store. Even if his scoring dips for the first time in his career, Hayward’s good track record of health (he’s missed no more than 10 games in a season) and ability to chip in across other categories shouldn’t result in a significant downgrade of his fantasy stock.
Hayward remains the face of the franchise in Utah as he'll be entering his sixth year in the NBA this coming season. The pride of Butler averaged a career-high 19.3 points a year ago and tacked on an impressive 4.9 rebounds, 4.1 assists, 1.4 steals, 0.4 blocks, and 1.6 three-pointers over the course of 76 outings at a rate of 34 minutes per game. All told, Hayward put together yet another season where he helped out in every category across the box score, and he even was able to raise his shooting percentage to 45 after suffering four consecutive seasons of decrease which bottomed out at 41 percent last year. A return to the 49 percent from the floor during his rookie campaign back in 2010-11 is a bit unreasonable since he garners significantly more attention from defenders these days, but another showing of last year's total will keep him right at the league average of 45 percent from the 2014-15 season. The fact that he's the central cog in Utah's offense makes it hard to imagine he could improve on his counting stats from last season, however, as he tends to warrant attention from an opposing team's best on-ball defender on any given night, leaving little room for Hayward to surpass his production in previous years.
Gordon Hayward is entering his fifth season in the NBA after finalizing a max deal worth $63 million in the offseason. While the price tag for regaining his services was high, the Butler alum contributed across the board last season by averaging 16.2 points, 5.1 rebounds, 5.2 assists, 1.4 steals, 0.5 blocks, and 1.1 three-pointers in 36 minutes per game. He played mostly at shooting guard last season but will likely shift down to his more natural fit as a small forward under the direction of new head coach Quin Snyder. Despite being a workhorse for the Jazz, the 24-year-old managed to stay relatively healthy as he played and started in 77 games for a disappointing Jazz squad. Hayward has proven throughout his career that he can contribute in all facets of the game, but he struggled mightily with his shot last season. In fact, his average from the field has decreased over his four years in the league, culminating in a lowly 41-percent shooting from the field in 2013-14. Regardless of his shooting woes, Hayward will be the featured offensive weapon for the Jazz this upcoming season as they look to rebuild with him as the face of their franchise.
Everything remained pretty constant for Hayward from 2011-12 to last season, except that his three-point shooting percentage jumped from 35 percent to 42 percent, aiding a spike in scoring from 11.8 points to 14.1 points per game. The only spot on the Jazz's roster with any semblance of depth is the wing, with Hayward, Alec Burks, Marvin Williams, Brandon Rush and Richard Jefferson all in the mix for playing time. Knowing this, it's hard to predict a bump in playing time for the fourth-year player, even if his performance would typically dictate such. Although a player standing 6-8 would seemingly possess the length to help out in defensive categories while matching up against smaller guards, that's not really Hayward's game, as he has career highs of 0.8 steals and 0.6 blocks per game - numbers that are unlikely to increase any time soon. Scoring, three-point shooting and free-throw percentage are the three areas where owners can expect solid production from Hayward.
Hayward had a breakout sophomore season last year, thanks mostly to seeing almost twice as many minutes per game (30.5) than he saw as a rookie. He shot 45.6 percent from the field, 34.6 percent from downtown, and 83.2 percent from the line en route to averaging 11.8 points per game. Hayward’s versatility as a good distributor and average rebounder was seen in his averaging 3.5 boards and 3.1 assists. It’d be nice to see him average more than 0.8 steals, but his 0.6 blocks per game add up over the course of a season. Just 21 years old, Hayward averaged 37 minutes per game in the final month of last season and appears poised to carry the load as the starting shooting guard or small forward for the Jazz this season. Veterans Randy Foye and Marvin Williams will fight to get significant playing time, and youngsters Alec Burks and DeMarre Carroll should also see minutes. With his youth and ability to shoot from anywhere on the court, Hayward is worth a middle-to-late round pick.
At 6-8, Hayward will likely be splitting time at both shooting guard and small forward in the 2011-12 season. He started many of the games in the second half of his rookie season and played very well. He may begin his sophomore campaign continuing to come off the bench as a versatile sixth man, but as he develops, he could slide into a starting spot at either the two or three position.
Gordon Hayward was a big-time player at Butler who the Jazz drafted this year with the ninth pick in the draft. He has the skills of a guard and the height of a power forward and should be able to play multiple positions ranging from the two to the four. His playing time could increase throughout the year as he develops.
More Fantasy News
Won't play Tuesday
Perfect off bench in win
Hayward scored 21 points (9-9 FG, 3-3 FT) while adding four rebounds, two assists and a steal in 26 minutes off the bench during Friday's 117-97 win over the Pacers.
Leads all scorers in win
Hayward delivered 25 points (5-10 FG, 3-5 3Pt, 12-13 FT), eight rebounds, five assists and one block across 32 minutes in Wednesday's 112-102 road win over the Heat.
Leads team in scoring
Hayward totaled 19 points (7-12 FG, 1-3 3Pt, 4-6 FT), six rebounds, three assists and a steal over 29 minutes in the Celtics' loss to the Nets on Saturday.
Double-doubles in return
Hayward finished with 13 points (4-11 FG, 0-2 3Pt, 5-5 FT), 10 rebounds, and three assists in 34 minutes during Sunday's 115-96 loss to San Antonio.