Analyzing the NBA Combine Measurements May 22, 2010 Gordon Hayward's wingspan won't knock anyone's socks off at 6-7 ¾, compared to his 6-8 measurement in shoes. [Read Full Article] Finding a Niche for Gordon Hayward May 5, 2010 One of the most highly debated prospects in this draft, Butler’s miraculous tournament put the unassuming Gordon Hayward in the national spotlight. Projected all over the board, the mid-major star is certainly talented, but he elicits as wide a range of opinions as any prospect in this draft.
Gordon Hayward, 6-8, Sophomore, Small Forward, Butler
15.5 Points, 8.2 Rebounds, 1.2 Assists, 2.3 Turnovers, 1.1 Steals, 29.4% 3FG, 46.4% FG, 82.9% FT
The last time we checked in on Gordon Hayward (in mid-January), he was only a few months away from one of the most improbable NCAA tournament runs in recent history. Coming up inches short of a historic upset, Hayward was the catalyst for the Bulldogs’ run in March and improved his draft stock with his heady play. While his game has some scouts swearing by his ability to emerge as a Mike Miller-type complementary scorer, Hayward still has his detractors. His status as a small conference star with questionable athleticism elicits a wide spectrum of opinions when projecting him to the next level.
A large part of the variation in scouts’ sentiments about Hayward is his physical profile. While he has excellent size for a NBA small forward at, he spent a great deal of time at the power forward spot last season and lacks the prototypical athleticism that would allow him to seamlessly transition his game to the next level. He’s not terribly explosive and will have to answer some questions about his lateral quickness and defensive ability. But he also has positive attributes. He displays good speed and shows tremendous body control. His ability to use those tools to effectively complement his outstanding basketball IQ and perimeter stroke remains a subject of debate.
The aspect of Hayward’s game that few questioned last season was his ability to hit shots from the perimeter, but one of the more noticeable changes in his statistics from last season to when we checked on him in January was the near 10% drop in his 3-point percentage.
In the final few months of the season, his shooting continued to deteriorate to the point that he finished his sophomore campaign shooting under 30% from beyond the arc. Though such a slump would seem problematic for a player who will need to shoot the ball well to be effective at the next level, the decline in his performance in catch-and-shoot situations had more to do with his role with the Bulldogs than any tangible changes in the way he shot the ball.
As the clear-cut first option for coach Brad Stevens last season, Hayward was defended more effectively than he was in his first season at Butler, and he took some shots that he may not have taken as a freshman. In 2009, nearly 75% of his catch-and-shoot jumpers were unguarded, according to Synergy Sports Technology. He saw less than half of such attempts go uncontested in 2010. His smooth mechanics and sound form speak to his ability to be a more effective player at the next level when he reverts back to being a complementary option. He’ll reap the benefits of playing next to quicker guards and having more space to operate out on the perimeter.
As he continues to add strength and puts the work in through pure repetition, he should have little trouble translating his stroke to the NBA 3-point line.
The decline in his perimeter shooting hurt his overall scoring efficiency last season, but Hayward compensated with marked improvements in other areas of his offensive game. He was substantially better inside the arc, finishing at a much improved rate (59.2%- tops amongst all small forwards in this draft) and knocking down his pull-up jumper at a more than respectable clip. While he isn’t the type of ball handler that gets to the rim at will, he has added a fluid crossover to his repertoire that allows him to create enough separation to step back for threes or get into the lane where he can allow his excellent body control and tremendous touch to take over. He isn’t likely to be breaking down defenders in the NBA, but the diversity of his perimeter scoring attack will add a dimension to what he brings to a team, especially if he regains his consistency in catch-and-shoot situations.
Hayward played a prominent role for the Bulldogs and did a bit of everything this season, but whichever NBA franchise lands him won’t be asking him to do many of the things he did for the Bulldogs last season. He won’t be relied upon to create late in the shot clock or carry his team. Rather, he’ll be asked to improve on some of the things he’s already good at and to help stretch the floor with the threat of his jump shot.
In Butler’s matchup with Duke, it was clear that Hayward had to do everything in his power to create easy scoring opportunities for himself because Lance Thomas and an array of other defenders were focused on keeping the ball out of his hands. Though Hayward had a hard time getting off clean looks, he displayed a high motor working off the ball, good timing on his cuts, and a willingness to draw contact and crash the offensive glass. Over the course of the year, he also knocked down nearly half of his jumpers when running off screens, an asset that could allow a creative head coach to open up clean looks for him from the perimeter or use him as a decoy to generate shots for other players. He doesn’t project as a high level option in the NBA, but Hayward has the tools to be an efficient role player.
Ultimately, Hayward’s level of success in the NBA will have as much to do with his ability to capably defend NBA his position as it does with the translation of his jump shot. Though he uses his length effectively, rebounds the ball well for a small forward, shows good intensity and understands positioning, Hayward’s lack of lateral quickness and physical strength will give NBA decision-makers pause when evaluating his defensive potential. If Hayward struggles to deny dribble penetration consistently, he could be limited to a much smaller role than he would if he emerged as even an adequate team defender.
Looking at Hayward’s defensive potential, it is important to note how much time he spent defending the four spot for the Bulldogs last season. Regardless of who he matched up with, Hayward was a fairly effective defender for two reasons: First and foremost, he never gave up on a play -- although some players were able to get a step on him off the dribble, Hayward consistently stayed with the play and rarely gave his man a free pass to the rim. Second, he doesn’t overcommit, and seems to understand the limitations of the player he’s defending. While neither of those tendencies will assure him success in the NBA, they certainly won’t hurt his transition.
Heading into workout season, it will be intriguing to see how Hayward treats the draft process. He’s left himself the opportunity to return to school if he doesn’t like what he’s heard by the May 8 deadline, but he’s being projected as a lottery pick by some draft services. Hayward’s decision will certainly make the draft more interesting if he decides to go pro. There are a handful of wings he could be matched up with in workouts -- players like Paul George and Devin Ebanks, as well as a player cut from a similar mold offensively in Luke Babbitt -- that would provide an excellent gauge for how he will fare athletically at the next level.
Looking at Hayward’s body of work, it is difficult to knock what he could bring to the table in a complementary role. Smart and savvy, he is a coach’s dream. But his lack of athleticism raises questions about his long-term potential. Hayward is being projected all over the board at this point. It will be interesting to see how his stock changes throughout the draft process. [Read Full Article]
NCAA Weekly Performers, 1/15/10 January 15, 2010 Joseph Treutlein
After a solid freshman season, Gordon Hayward has upped his production as a sophomore, creating himself some nice draft buzz in the process. The 6'8 Hayward is playing more like a combo forward this season, upping his scoring and rebounding, without sacrificing efficiency.
On the offensive end, despite a decrease in three-point shooting percentage this season (45% to 36%, on just 78 attempts), Hayward's bread and butter is still his outside shot, boasting a high and quick release with range to the NBA three-point line. Hayward's shot is incredibly smooth, and one of the most impressive aspects of his shooting is his excellent body control and shot selection, as he almost always squares his shoulders and gets his feet underneath him before taking a shot, leading to very few bad misses. He's not a great shot creator off the dribble, however, even though he looks very comfortable pulling up in space.
Attacking the basket, Hayward doesn't have much in terms of advanced ball-handling, rarely changing directions with the ball, but he can handle it comfortably on straight-line drives with either hand, and his ability to take the ball to the basket or throw off a runner in the lane allows him to still score efficiently around the basket. A deceptively good athlete, Hayward has outstanding coordination and body control, while also showing off pretty good explosiveness when he gets his legs under him. He likewise has a solid first step, and is very crafty maneuvering through the lane and finding open spaces, getting to the free throw line at a pretty high rate.
Aside from scoring, Hayward is a very versatile contributor on the offensive end, moving well without the ball, showing a good understanding of spacing, getting out in transition, and playing smart basketball in general. This also shows up in his passing game, where he excels in particular on the drive and dish, and does a good job keeping his head up with the ball. Hayward is already a dangerous threat in transition with his size and body control, and this is before you consider his marksmanship with his three-point shot, something he doesn't utilize much at this level but could be a very valuable weapon to some open-minded offensive teams in the NBA.
Hayward is also a good offensive rebounder for a small forward, doing a great job of coming out of nowhere to crash the glass, showing good instincts and a high motor in that regard.
The defensive end is where Hayward's game has the most concerns, as he's not really an ideal matchup for any position in the NBA, lacking the size to defend most 4's and not having ideal lateral quickness on the perimeter. While he plays with a good effort level and his fundamentals aren't bad, he doesn't have a particularly low stance and he's a bit stiff in his lateral movements. That said, his foot speed is adequate and he does a good job of using his length to contest shots, making up for his lack of great quickness. There are concerns about how he will stick with many of the explosive small forwards in the NBA, but it's something many other sharp-shooting forwards (Gallinari, Turkoglu) in the league live with.
Looking forward, Hayward should be a very good bet to go in the first round should he declare this year, and he could be a very quick contributor if he's drafted to a team with a good point guard and a wide open offense that can take advantage of his range and quick shooting. Becoming more comfortable creating his shot off the dribble and developing his advanced ball-handling should both be among his priorities, even if they don't become staples of his game, as it will help keep defenses honest. [Read Full Article] USA Basketball Junior National Teams Tryouts: Top Performers June 20, 2009 Another extremely well-rounded prospect who is bound to become one of this team’s leading players, Gordon Hayward acquainted himself quite well to the NBA talent evaluators in attendance who had not yet penciled in the Horizon League as a legitimate scouting destination.
Strictly a wing player, despite standing 6-8, Hayward showed a very polished game on the offensive end of the floor. He’s first and foremost a terrific shooter, knocking down an incredible 45% of his 3-pointers as a freshman on nearly five attempts per game, which helped him rank in the top-10 in true shooting percentage amongst all NCAA prospects. He sports a quick, effortless stroke, being absolutely automatic with his feet set, but also looking very comfortable stepping back and pulling up off the dribble, particularly after a shot-fake.
Not particularly explosive, Hayward relies on his terrific smarts and excellent array of jab-steps and shot-fakes to keep his man off balance and create space to get his shot off. He does a great job of selling his moves and has terrific credibility thanks to how deadly a shooter he is. Once he gets past his defender, he’s very adept at finding the open man, looking extremely polished with a high basketball IQ, even being capable of playing some pick and roll, which is somewhat of a rarity at his size.
One NCAA coach in attendance didn’t seem to be too surprised by what Hayward was showing. “He’s the best player we played all year,” raved incoming Arizona head coach Sean Miller. His Xavier team only lost two out of conference games last season, to Duke and Butler.
Hayward’s flaws revolve mostly around his average physical profile, not being particularly strong or overwhelmingly athletic. Mostly used as a mismatch nightmare as a face-up power forward, he struggled keeping power forwards off the block, being posted up and pushed around. His lateral quickness is average, and there will be question marks regarding his ability to guard some of the more explosive small forwards he’ll have to match up with at his position in the NBA. With that said, he is a very crafty defender, using his length really well to come up with blocks and steals and also contributing significantly as a rebounder. Offensively, he struggled to create his own shot at times in pure one-on-one situations, as his first step is not all that great if his matchup does not bite on his initial move.
Hayward showed at these tryouts that he could have played for any school in America, and he’s certainly a prospect NBA teams will have to keep tabs on. With Matt Howard and Shelvin Mack (who also fared well here in Colorado Springs), Butler looks like a sure-fire top-25 team next year and a very legit candidate to make a deep run in the NCAA tournament. [Read Full Article]