Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports
Hayward, just Hayward.
WHAT. A. WIN. Seriously. It was amazing! It wasn't amazing because the Jazz beat the Mavericks and Dirk (insert blatant flop reference here), it was amazing because Ty did something I don't think anybody thought he was capable of doing. Playing the young guys VERY extended minutes. Burks and Foye as your backcourt? Hayward playing the three yet initiating the offense from the 3 spot? Favors and Al finishing? It seems that Ty becomes a smart, albeit desperate, coach when injuries happen. [Note To Aging Point Guards: Evidently, you CAN play your way out of a PG position in Utah now. See also Tinsley, Watson.]
Even more amazing is Hayward's all around game last night. Some of us, myself included, have cooled down on Hayward and have tempered our expectations of Hayward and what he can become. We think a glorified Troy Murphy or Mike Dunleavy, Jr. But we might want to throw those aside. Look at Hayward's night last night: 34 min, 27 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 blocks, 1 steal, and ZERO turnovers. Oh and he shot just a measly 80% from three point land. Hayward had himself a game. He also went up against Marion, who is not the Marion of old, but still an oversized 3 who can still disrupt the even best Small Forwards. What was amazing about Hayward's night was he was just confident. Maybe it was the haircut (Sports Clips?), maybe it was the matchup, but I believe this is Hayward coming into his own. Other oversized shooting guards in Hayward's draft class have had a hard time adjusting to being the focal point in their respective offenses this year. You can take a look at Paul George and Evan Turner. These two made the adjustment earlier in the year but they also had more minutes to learn. Hayward has been having to learn this in limited minutes off the bench. I think we can agree that the young man is starting to put it together. He's learning how good he really is.
Speaking of how good he really is Hayward is playing almost 4 minutes less this year than he did last year yet he's producing at a higher clip. His assists are down this year but he's shooting close to 40% from long range and 84% from the line. In fact if you put Hayward's averages this year to 36 minutes a game you'd get 18 ppg, 4 rpg, 3 apg, 0.83 spg, and 1.1 spg. One could argue those averages would be even higher because his confidence goes through the roof when his usage rate increases. With Burks and Hayward initiating the offense it seems to put the opposing defense in a tough spot. Both can take the defender off the dribble, pass, and run the pick and roll very well. It should be interesting to see if Corbin uses this to his advantage when Mo gets back and allow Mo to play off ball.
So after seeing last night and how well the Jazz played as a collective whole when their pieces are used correctly have your feelings changed about what the Jazz should do before the trade deadline? Honestly, if there is one take away from last night's lineup of Foye, Burks, Hayward, Favors, and Al it is that that lineup hides Big Al on defense VERY effectively. I'm not sure if the numbers back me up on this one but the rotations were crisp and Dallas' ball handlers were not able to blaze into the paint at full speed. The Jazz had serious length on the perimeter and it was beautiful. Last night I could imagine the Jazz not making a move at the deadline. Except for the lethargic opening lineup (Honestly, how long is that lineup going to keep getting its doors blown off before an adjustment is made?) the roles for the Jazz are starting to take shape. Once again, it has taken massive injuries to cause this. (Insert primal carthatic scream here: WHY WHY WHY WHY WHY WHY WHY???)
Lastly, how about that lineup at the end? It was every Jazz fan's dream NBA2K lineup on the floor, playing well, and IN crunch time. How awesome was that? I'm going to get a little sidetracked on this last one. But, awesome. I just couldn't stop smiling. This is what we had dreamed about. I just wanted to stand up from my couch and home and give these young guys a standing ovation. They haven't arrived but they're rounding into fun exciting form.