I know, I know, it's a very small sample size, what with being only three games and all, but still! If I was in Hayward's position, I would've wanted to come out game 1 and show that I was the offensive leader. That didn't happen. So maybe the first game after the contract thing didn't happen, I would still want to come out and show the team they made a mistake not signing me, maybe play with a little chip on my shoulder. But no, that didn't happen either. Last night was more of the same. Hayward could very well pick it up next game and never look back, but these first few games is where I was really expecting him to come out and show us that he was the leader of this team on offense. Right now Burks is our leading scorer off the bench (I for one believe Burks should be our first option on offense, but that's not really relevant right now), followed by Kanter, with Hayward in third. I have no problem with this, other than Hayward and his agent clearly thought he was something more than what he's shown us so far. That and the Jazz spent all offseason talking about Hayward being the leader. I haven't seen it. Ultimately, this could work out well for the Jazz from a contract standpoint, allowing us to pay him less and pay other players more.
So I thought it would be fun to look at a few 2/3 players and their stats from the first couple games and see where Hayward stacks up. I'm gonna leave the names and identifying stats off though, I just want to let you see the level Hayward is playing at first, then reveal his fellow players.
Alright, here are the per game stats so far this year, sorted by Win Share/48 (not included on this table).
Now you'll see most of these players are in roughly the same role. Surprisingly, the best player by win share is a bench player who only gets 20 minutes a game. But 13.3 ppg in only 21 mpg is not bad. Another player is only getting 23 mpg, but is a starter. He's scoring 12 a game in limited minutes and shooting really well, so from first glance he seems like he should be getting more minutes (semi-spoiler, this player has nothing to do with the Jazz).
Here's the per-36 stats, in the same order as above.
Only thing I want to note here is the two best scorers according to this are both bench players.
Alright, so up next is the advanced stats from basketball-reference. Same order as before.
I did add a column for the difference between the ORtg and the DRtg, just for convenience. There are a few fun things on here. For instance, that player I mentioned earlier who was doing well as a starter but with limited minutes? Yeah, he turns the ball over way too much! That first player is having a great season so far. He's playing 21 mpg and has a per of 23.3. His ORtg-DRtg is 22. Fantastic numbers. He's not shooting lights out but he's shooting well, and he's getting a lot of steals. Peruse through the tables as you would like, and let me ask you a few hypotheticals.
Would you like Hayward over CJ Miles? Wes Matthews? Trevor Ariza? How about DeMarre Carroll? Maybe even Maurice Harkless? As I'm sure you realized, those are some of the players in these charts. Burks is in here too. You'll notice on that last chart there are two players with substantially lower win shares, in the 0.05-0.06 range. One of those in Michael Kidd-Gilchrest. The other is Gordon Hayward. Here's that same chart, with names:
So yeah. Interesting mix of players here, all of whom are playing better than Hayward, at least by some standards. Hayward is passing and stealing the ball well, so there's that. The only player with an effectiveshooting percentage lower than Hayward is Carroll, who I think we can all agree is in a different role than Hayward. Still, he has a much better ORtg. And somehow has a better true shooting percentage than Hayward despite being 2-7. Gordo's free throw rate is lower than everyone except Matthews, though I think Matthews is making up for it by hitting 57% from downtown. His turnover rate is on the higher side, his rebounding rate are lower-middle side of it. If there's one positive it's that he's passing very well.
Now is that a gross overreaction to 3 games? Yes. Do I think Hayward is better than these players? Some of them, yes. I think Burks is better than Hayward. I think Butler is too. Harkless could be one day. Is Hayward better than Green? Parsons? Miles? I'm not sure.
I like Hayward. I do. But he's not the offensive player we all want him to be. He's not the offensive player a lot of the people in that chart are. He's a decent playmaker, a good spot-up shooter, and a great passer. Is he the cornerstone of an offense? No. So there's the problem. Favors isn't the main part of the offense, and he shouldn't be. Kanter may evolve into that, but we'll see about that in a couple years ago. Burks is inconsistent at times, but I fell like he has a lot more offensive potential than Hayward, and so far this season he's playing much better, in my opinion. Hayward's also younger than a lot of these guys (so is Burks, so that's good for us), so he could grow a lot more. So far though, in what is supposed to be his breakout year, he's been disappointing. Will he turn it around? Probably. Is he the future of this offense? I doubt it. That being said, I do believe he is a part of this team's future, and is actually really important in our offense. He's our Ginobili. Our complementary player. A 2nd or 3rd option on the wing. And there's nothing wrong with that. He should be kicking himself for not taking the deal a few days ago though, because the Jazz (and everybody else) can see that Hayward may not be the leader we all thought he could be.