Utah Jazz: Can Gordon Hayward Continue His Steady Development in 2013?

By Ryan Heckman
Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

The Utah Jazz will be depending heavily on youth in 2013. In fact, no one in the Jazz’s projected starting lineup is older than 23 years old. Between rookie Trey Burke, 20, second year pro Alec Burks, 22, fourth year pro Gordon Hayward, 23, and their new starting front court of 22 year old Derrick Favors and 21 year old Enes Kanter, the Jazz have reason to be excited for the future.

If these guys continue their development as pros, the Jazz could have a formidable starting five very soon. One of the more tenured guys out of those five, Hayward, has been steadily improving throughout his career and looks to continue it in 2013.

In his rookie season, Hayward only got about 17 minutes per game therefore not being able to truly develop as a core part of the starting five that he finds himself in now. But, throughout his rookie year, Hayward shot the ball well and showed glimpses of the guy he was while at Butler.

His second year featured the most minutes he’s averaged as a pro, and he bumped up his scoring to over 11 points per game compared to less than six in his rookie campaign. He also took over twice as many shot attempts per game, which helped him get more comfortable in the offense.

Last year, Hayward played about a minute less per game than he did as a sophomore, but again took more shots than he did the previous season and upped his scoring yet again to 14.1 points.

As a carrer 45 percent shooter overall and over 40 percent from beyond the arc, Hayward will continue to be a valuable asset on offense for the Jazz. He will also be placed into somewhat of a leadership role now that he’s the oldest out of the guys in the starting lineup, having been with the team now for four years and possessing a bit more knowledge about how Utah operates.

In 2013, I would love to see Hayward continue to shoot even more, especially from three point range. Utah will need a couple of guys to step up and take charge of the offense and Hayward is one of the likeliest candidates to do so along with Burke facilitating the ball to his big men inside. The Jazz aren’t far away from competing for a playoff spot, and Hayward will undoubtedly be a big part.

Ryan Heckman is a Senior Writer for RantSports.comFollow him on Twitter  @ryanmheckman, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.

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