Gordon Hayward Should Have Big Year with Depleted Utah Jazz

By Cody Williams
Hayward Jazz
Benny Sieu – USA Today Sports Images

The Utah Jazz are pretty clearly setting themselves to be one of the handful of NBA teams to be in line for the number one overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft. Obviously to make that happen, the Jazz are going to be pretty bad next season.

Utah saw their two leading scorers and rebounders from last season, Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap, both depart in free agency. Moreover, they are likely going to be starting a rookie in Trey Burke at point guard and two relatively inexperienced big men in Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter. There is a lot of talent there, but not a team that’s going to have a lot of success as a whole.

Though many people are excited to see Favors and Kanter next season and how they perform when they get a starter’s share of minutes, the player that is going to have a real opportunity to shine is three-year veteran guard/forward Gordon Hayward.

Last season for Utah, Hayward played in 72 games and played 29.2 minutes per game. In that role, he averaged 14.1 points, 3.1 rebounds, three assists and 0.8 steals per game while shooting 43.5 percent from the field and 41.5 percent from three. However, Hayward really found his niche last year when the Jazz moved him to their starting small forward. In 17 games he averaged 34.9 minutes per game and put up 14.2 points, 3.9 assists, 3.7 rebounds and one steal per game while shooting 47.3 percent from the field and 45.8 percent from long-range.

With Jefferson and Millsap gone, it’s likely that Hayward may become the Jazz’s primary offensive option. He’s a versatile young offensive player that can score when attacking the rim and as a jump-shooter. He’s also skilled for a wing in terms of distributing. If Hayward is made a focal-point of the Jazz’s offense next season, he could put up some really impressive numbers.

Cody Williams is a Senior Writer with Rant Sports. Follow Cody on Twitter @TheSizzle20, add him on Google+ and like his Facebook page.

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