I think David Woods from the Indy Star nails Hayward's issues,
However, the decision was the not as desirable as it was portrayed to be. For development as a basketball player, it might have been better for Hayward to play a third college season. That was true even before his recent struggles in Salt Lake City.
One of the components lacking in Hayward's game was not so much skill as assertiveness. He demonstrated growth in that area in two years at Butler and a summer with USA Basketball.
That would have been accentuated this season because the Bulldogs would be a Top 10 team, a target of all opponents. Victory or defeat would have in large measure depended on Hayward, game after game. That would have stretched him psychologically, making him grow as a leader.
Moreover, it would have developed his skills more than a yo-yo existence in the NBA.
He gives good reasons for Hayward leaving, primarily that his stock might never have been higher than after last year's run to the NCAA championship game.
It sure does seem though as though his confidence is shattered. Each passing game where he plays he seems to be putting enormous pressure on himself to make a shot, so much so that he would rather give up the ball than have another attempt. It seems an awful lot like the catcher from Major League 2 (yes, I've watched it) that has to walk the ball out to the mound after each pitch because he can't throw it back to him. Or Chuck Knoblauch disease.
Maybe Deron just needs to let Hayward chuck a ball at him for once. I don't know. In the pre-season he acknowledged that he was thinking too much and when he had his breakout game against the Lakers, he just started having fun.
To me, he seems to be putting the pressure on himself because this team is supposed to be winning and supposed to be contending instead of playing for a team that doesn't have those expectations.
CJ had had an up and down season. His shooting percentages are down from his career numbers. He has shown signs recently of turning it around. That's something we've heard though quite a bit over the last few seasons.
One measuring stick though that has jumped way up is his PER rating. It's a per-minute rating by Hollinger. An average player has a rating of 15. CJ has averaged an 11 for most of his career. This year however it has jumped to 15.5, a slightly above average player. His previous high was 14.2. The jump can be marked by him getting to the line more and grabbing more rebounds than the past couple of seasons. He's also picked up his blocks per game and reduced his fouls per game. It doesn't hurt that he's scoring a career-high in points as well though he's taking more shots.
So is this where CJ plateaus? If it is, is he worth the $3.7 he's making and will make next season should the team pick up his option?
Or does he get better? Does he continue to go to the hole more as evidenced by his FTA increase? Or will he continue to be an up and down player?
Deron's current 3-game streak of 30+ points is the second longest of his career. He put up 5 such games in a row back in the 2009 season. The impressive thing is how efficient he's being with his shots. He's not jacking it up 30 time to get those points.
He's had 32 points on 17 shots, 34 points on 22 shots, and 30 points on 16 shots. A large part of his game this season has been getting to the line more and that's increased his scoring efficiency. He's averaging 6.8 attempts a game, 1.3 more than his previous career high. Add that to a career-high FT% and you can see why his offensive game is the best it's been.
It's also helped push his PER rating to a career-high of 24.9. That's behind Paul, Westbrook, Dirk, and Kobe. It's going to be a tough call for guards for the All-star game when it comes to the West.
Tom Ziller plots the league based on offensive and defensive efficiency. Click on through to see where the Jazz rank.
The first three dunks from Jeremy Evans last night:
Jeremy Evans dunks three times in a quarter (via outsidethenba)
I know it's a ridiculously small sample size, but in his 71 minutes played, he's shooting 68% and averages almost 19 & 8 per 36. His PER is a crazy 25 right now.
He's also going up against the end of the bench when he plays but last night he was the spark of that second unit. I hope the league never catches on to him and Watson's alley-oops.