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Gordon Hayward the best Jazz wing player of all time? Not what the numbers say.

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He gone. You can stop putting him on a pedestal now.

Golden State Warriors v Utah Jazz - Game Four Photo by Gene Sweeney Jr/Getty Images

So we start day one without Gordon Hayward, how will we ever recover from his loss? I think the Utah Jazz are going to be fine in the long run. They may not look fine from the jump, but it’s going to work out with the gaggle of younger guards and wings who will be the primary beneficiaries of all of these extra ‘meaningful minutes’.

I’m not disappointed that Gordon excised his choice to pick where in the world he lives. I am disappointed that if he had a 2k word blog post in the chamber, why didn’t he make this news come out sooner instead of waiting for all these small forward free agents to be sent to other teams while Utah was left holding onto a massive cap hold and couldn’t make any moves. I’m also not a huge fan of the timeline of how things went down yesterday either - with the leak actually being what precipitated any news from coming out. The denials weren’t great either as in the pit of our collective stomachs we felt that Gordon was gone, in mind and spirit, if not yet body.

However, it’s not the end of the world. If anything I’m more disappointed that the Utah Jazz had to accommodate him so much after all the special treatment he received. He didn’t get to start right off the bat and play big minutes as a rookie, but he was a bigger part of the rotation than Derrick Favors (the #3 pick of that same 2010 Draft class). He was the only one out of the Favors, Enes Kanter (#3, 2011), Alec Burks (#12, 2011) group that had a regular role in the roster for much of their rookie contract.

The marketing department featured him, the sales department sold him, and the in-house PR / broadcasting / propaganda division adored him. They fawned over him like he was an over the hill veteran who signed on to play ahead of a guy on a rookie deal. All of this reached a crescendo in the days leading up to July 1st. The #Hayday thing, their radio guys suggesting that he could be the best wing player ever in franchise history. Or that he would one day have a statue in front of the Delta Center EnergySolutions Arena Vivint Smart Home Arena Aunt Viv — that was the last straw for me.

How dare the Jazz’ own propaganda wing forget their own history? Gordon Hayward? Up there with John and Karl? Really? Moreover, this became a personal project for me over the next few days and I researched every wing player in New Orleans / Utah Jazz history. And the statement is entirely baseless and ludicrous.

Gordon Hayward, who has four total playoff wins to his credit, all in the first round, is the best wing in franchise history? Gordon Hayward, who was the first option for four straight years and got over 20 ppg just once, is the best wing in franchise history? He didn’t have to defend Michael Jordan in the NBA Finals. He didn’t have to carry a team of some of the worst talented Jazzmen ever. He didn’t have to face triple teams on the regular, as a wing player.

Even thinking about it again makes me upset at all the sucking up that went his way for the last two seasons - two seasons of development hijacked by trying to convince a guy that he should give ‘us’ a chance when he’s a free agent? This isn’t the way Jerry Sloan and Frank Layden would have handled it. This is not Larry H. Miller’s team anymore if that trade-off is made.

Utah earned every single one of those draft picks. They are assets to be used, but back in the day some of the best players to play for the team were draft picks that turned into Jazzmen. Now we’re throwing away lottery picks in order to keep Hayward happy? Can you list all of the lotto picks John and Karl played with? You go to the NBA Finals with Adam Keefe being the only other lotto pick, Gordon. Show us that you’re really the best wing in franchise history?

Pathetic.

Let’s actually look at the numbers and judge for ourselves what his legacy in a Jazz jersey is. This data comes from the database over at basketball-reference.com - and I trust them implicitly.

Career Utah Jazz totals (regular season and playoffs combined):

Top Wing - Totals.csv

Player Start End G Min PTS REB AST STL BLK
Player Start End G Min PTS REB AST STL BLK
Darrell Griffith 1981 1991 802 22441 12948 2660 1704 978 253
Andrei Kirilenko 2002 2011 726 22336 8866 4025 2014 1015 1464
Bryon Russell 1994 2002 724 19499 6787 2830 1002 837 201
Adrian Dantley 1980 1986 482 18751 14242 3003 1768 528 63
Jeff Hornacek 1994 2000 577 18051 8237 1659 2235 731 129
Gordon Hayward 2011 2017 531 16698 8371 2227 1811 540 218
Matt Harpring 2003 2009 513 13098 5975 2477 685 371 92
Pete Maravich 1975 1980 330 12654 8324 1435 1844 467 93
Jeff Malone 1991 1994 309 10714 5742 817 580 194 24
Bob Hansen 1984 1990 511 10494 3943 1223 859 330 46
David Benoit 1992 2001 472 9428 3445 1993 296 200 257
C.J. Miles 2006 2012 412 7923 3438 894 539 284 109
Adam Keefe 1995 2000 459 7747 2280 1838 288 220 136
Aaron James 1975 1979 356 7671 3829 1470 370 158 69
Tyrone Corbin 1992 1994 270 7588 2570 1516 443 313 77
Ronnie Brewer 2007 2010 291 7534 2978 840 522 409 75
Blue Edwards 1990 1995 295 7110 2825 918 464 278 123
Raja Bell 2004 2012 247 6703 2445 667 354 176 37
Alec Burks 2012 2017 305 6681 3060 888 537 186 46
Rodney Hood 2015 2017 199 5475 2428 616 404 146 39
James Hardy 1979 1982 249 5379 1410 1312 315 178 235
Gail Goodrich 1977 1979 182 5292 2582 421 819 194 37
Joe Ingles 2015 2017 253 5220 1390 628 539 245 27
Gordan Giricek 2004 2008 243 4996 2120 502 338 121 28
Nate Williams 1975 1978 222 4959 2726 914 300 250 51
Shandon Anderson 1997 1999 246 4711 1815 690 239 154 41
Kyle Korver 2008 2010 207 4506 1800 516 327 107 74
Donyell Marshall 2001 2002 148 4360 2068 1078 253 140 156
Allan Bristow 1980 1981 164 4305 1666 942 724 151 9
Louie Nelson 1975 1976 138 3928 1629 398 347 147 12
DeShawn Stevenson 2001 2004 227 3743 1331 430 270 90 50
Chris Morris 1996 1998 248 3675 1484 654 178 143 75
John Drew 1983 1985 155 3638 2782 680 276 149 11
Marc Iavaroni 1986 1989 283 3482 994 691 188 63 57
Ron Boone 1980 1981 127 3432 1376 300 463 125 11
Marvin Williams 2013 2014 139 3401 1132 597 155 91 69
Bud Stallworth 1975 1977 169 3245 1497 462 122 108 39
John Starks 2001 2002 144 3087 1000 225 249 107 11
Kelly Tripucka 1987 1988 135 2920 1200 367 352 123 15
Calbert Cheaney 2003 2003 86 2473 722 291 171 67 14
Wesley Matthews 2010 2010 92 2396 901 235 141 82 20
Randy Foye 2013 2013 82 2249 882 127 167 66 27
Richard Jefferson 2014 2014 82 2213 831 219 130 56 14
Joe Johnson 2017 2017 89 2169 857 286 171 42 19
Freddie Boyd 1976 1978 98 2159 741 139 273 80 16
Quincy Lewis 2000 2002 157 1950 594 221 98 62 42
Terry Furlow 1980 1980 55 1718 878 152 221 54 14
Devin Brown 2006 2006 81 1711 611 207 104 44 14
DeMarre Carroll 2012 2013 90 1511 507 253 79 72 26
Ollie Johnson 1975 1975 43 1159 340 177 80 42 20
Basketball-reference.com, AllthatAmar

In regards to the time put in, and the simple metrics of what shows up in the box score - a few wings right off the bat have been much more productive on the court. A few of them have put in more time as well, and been a much more visible part of Jazz history, especially in the NBA Playoffs. Just in minutes alone we see Hayward is between Jeff Hornacek and Matt Harpring. That’s probably where his actual legacy lies as well.

Career Utah Jazz per game averages (regular season and playoffs combined):

Top Wing - Per Game.csv

Player Start End G Min MPG PPG RPG APG SPG BPG PRASB
Player Start End G Min MPG PPG RPG APG SPG BPG PRASB
Darrell Griffith 1981 1991 802 22441 27.98 16.14 3.32 2.12 1.22 0.32 23.12
Andrei Kirilenko 2002 2011 726 22336 30.77 12.21 5.54 2.77 1.40 2.02 23.94
Bryon Russell 1994 2002 724 19499 26.93 9.37 3.91 1.38 1.16 0.28 16.10
Adrian Dantley 1980 1986 482 18751 38.90 29.55 6.23 3.67 1.10 0.13 40.67
Jeff Hornacek 1994 2000 577 18051 31.28 14.28 2.88 3.87 1.27 0.22 22.51
Gordon Hayward 2011 2017 531 16698 31.45 15.76 4.19 3.41 1.02 0.41 24.80
Matt Harpring 2003 2009 513 13098 25.53 11.65 4.83 1.34 0.72 0.18 18.71
Pete Maravich 1975 1980 330 12654 38.35 25.22 4.35 5.59 1.42 0.28 36.86
Jeff Malone 1991 1994 309 10714 34.67 18.58 2.64 1.88 0.63 0.08 23.81
Bob Hansen 1984 1990 511 10494 20.54 7.72 2.39 1.68 0.65 0.09 12.53
David Benoit 1992 2001 472 9428 19.97 7.30 4.22 0.63 0.42 0.54 13.12
C.J. Miles 2006 2012 412 7923 19.23 8.34 2.17 1.31 0.69 0.26 12.78
Adam Keefe 1995 2000 459 7747 16.88 4.97 4.00 0.63 0.48 0.30 10.37
Aaron James 1975 1979 356 7671 21.55 10.76 4.13 1.04 0.44 0.19 16.56
Tyrone Corbin 1992 1994 270 7588 28.10 9.52 5.61 1.64 1.16 0.29 18.22
Ronnie Brewer 2007 2010 291 7534 25.89 10.23 2.89 1.79 1.41 0.26 16.58
Blue Edwards 1990 1995 295 7110 24.10 9.58 3.11 1.57 0.94 0.42 15.62
Raja Bell 2004 2012 247 6703 27.14 9.90 2.70 1.43 0.71 0.15 14.89
Alec Burks 2012 2017 305 6681 21.90 10.03 2.91 1.76 0.61 0.15 15.47
Rodney Hood 2015 2017 199 5475 27.51 12.20 3.10 2.03 0.73 0.20 18.26
James Hardy 1979 1982 249 5379 21.60 5.66 5.27 1.27 0.71 0.94 13.86
Gail Goodrich 1977 1979 182 5292 29.08 14.19 2.31 4.50 1.07 0.20 22.27
Joe Ingles 2015 2017 253 5220 20.63 5.49 2.48 2.13 0.97 0.11 11.18
Gordan Giricek 2004 2008 243 4996 20.56 8.72 2.07 1.39 0.50 0.12 12.79
Nate Williams 1975 1978 222 4959 22.34 12.28 4.12 1.35 1.13 0.23 19.10
Shandon Anderson 1997 1999 246 4711 19.15 7.38 2.80 0.97 0.63 0.17 11.95
Kyle Korver 2008 2010 207 4506 21.77 8.70 2.49 1.58 0.52 0.36 13.64
Donyell Marshall 2001 2002 148 4360 29.46 13.97 7.28 1.71 0.95 1.05 24.97
Allan Bristow 1980 1981 164 4305 26.25 10.16 5.74 4.41 0.92 0.05 21.29
Louie Nelson 1975 1976 138 3928 28.46 11.80 2.88 2.51 1.07 0.09 18.36
DeShawn Stevenson 2001 2004 227 3743 16.49 5.86 1.89 1.19 0.40 0.22 9.56
Chris Morris 1996 1998 248 3675 14.82 5.98 2.64 0.72 0.58 0.30 10.22
John Drew 1983 1985 155 3638 23.47 17.95 4.39 1.78 0.96 0.07 25.15
Marc Iavaroni 1986 1989 283 3482 12.30 3.51 2.44 0.66 0.22 0.20 7.04
Ron Boone 1980 1981 127 3432 27.02 10.83 2.36 3.65 0.98 0.09 17.91
Marvin Williams 2013 2014 139 3401 24.47 8.14 4.29 1.12 0.65 0.50 14.71
Bud Stallworth 1975 1977 169 3245 19.20 8.86 2.73 0.72 0.64 0.23 13.18
John Starks 2001 2002 144 3087 21.44 6.94 1.56 1.73 0.74 0.08 11.06
Kelly Tripucka 1987 1988 135 2920 21.63 8.89 2.72 2.61 0.91 0.11 15.24
Calbert Cheaney 2003 2003 86 2473 28.76 8.40 3.38 1.99 0.78 0.16 14.71
Wesley Matthews 2010 2010 92 2396 26.04 9.79 2.55 1.53 0.89 0.22 14.99
Randy Foye 2013 2013 82 2249 27.43 10.76 1.55 2.04 0.80 0.33 15.48
Richard Jefferson 2014 2014 82 2213 26.99 10.13 2.67 1.59 0.68 0.17 15.24
Joe Johnson 2017 2017 89 2169 24.37 9.63 3.21 1.92 0.47 0.21 15.45
Freddie Boyd 1976 1978 98 2159 22.03 7.56 1.42 2.79 0.82 0.16 12.74
Quincy Lewis 2000 2002 157 1950 12.42 3.78 1.41 0.62 0.39 0.27 6.48
Terry Furlow 1980 1980 55 1718 31.24 15.96 2.76 4.02 0.98 0.25 23.98
Devin Brown 2006 2006 81 1711 21.12 7.54 2.56 1.28 0.54 0.17 12.10
DeMarre Carroll 2012 2013 90 1511 16.79 5.63 2.81 0.88 0.80 0.29 10.41
Ollie Johnson 1975 1975 43 1159 26.95 7.91 4.12 1.86 0.98 0.47 15.33
Basketball-Reference.com, AllThatAmar

Yeah, I don’t see how a 15 / 4 / 3 / 1 guy is the best this great franchise has to offer. He was the best player on some of the worst teams we’ve seen though. So there’s that. His peak is more similar to Kendall Gill (with the New Jersey Nets) than it was with the actual Hall of Famers. Adrian Dantley (rounding up) averaged 30 ppg in four straight seasons. And he still added 3 apg to his 30 ppg and 6 rpg over his entire Jazz career. Pete Maravich was the do it all star for this early franchise. His 25 / 4 / 6 / 1 is also better.

Ah! But both of these guys didn’t start their career with the team, nor did theirs end with the Jazz either. So to be the best you have to spend all of your career with the team? What about Darrell Griffith, his 16 / 3 / 2 / 1 is pretty similar to Hayward - but Griff was Rookie of the Year, was in the Slam Dunk contest, and actually won games in the NBA Playoffs. One rpg and one apg don’t make Hayward better than Dr. Dunkenstein.

If we’re expanding it to guys who were Jazzmen for parts of their careers you have to give it up to Bryon Russell, Jeff Hornacek, and Andrei Kirilenko as well. B-Russ had the hardest job of any Jazz wing. Horny turned a 2nd round team into an NBA Finals team. AK-47 was just better than Hayward, period. But got none of the love from the team that Gordon did. (2nd quarter time out ceremony? Not even a half-time ceremony?)

Note: I have the data for per 36 minutes and analytics as well, but I have been getting errors on uploading the table for the past 10 minutes. I think this post has too much data in it, and it’s not allowing it to happen. So I’m not going to go into the deep stuff. But I will say that Hayward doesn’t look like the best wing ever in either dataset. He wasn’t the most efficient player per 36, with guys like John Drew, Nate Williams, Donyell Marshall, and even Allan Bristow coming ahead of him.

Part of that is pace related, and just flat out ability. Hayward worked hard on his game to be a very good player. But he’s not the best that ever was. He’s just the one from the vine / instagram generation.

He has a three point shot, and many of these guys from the 70s and 80s did not. But skill development is cumulative. Today we have power forwards learning more difficult dribbling drills than guards from back in the day. Everyone is shooting from three, and back then there wasn’t even a three point line for some of the players in this data set. Skills are cumulative. Gordon Hayward has a lot of them. That’s a product of his era. It’s not all on him.

And the mantle of best Wing player ever isn’t either. He didn’t lead a team of nobodies to near immortality like Andrei did. He didn’t destroy the league like Pistol Pete or AD did. He didn’t bring the team to the cusp of a championship like Horny did. Even as a second or third banana, what he apparently wants, he didn’t do it quite like Jeff Malone or Darrell Griffith.

Is Hayward right now one of the best players in the NBA? Absolutely. Was he one of the best players on last year’s 51 win team? Yes. Did he score big in three playoff games? Yes he did.

Is his departure going to wreck the team? No more than his inclusion in it changed the history books of the franchise.

Goodbye Hayward. Thank you for being so precious for so long. Hopefully now everyone and stop acting like you were better than you actually were. The numbers, especially the analytics, suggest that you were a generalist - not a specialist. You were vanilla in a whole store full of more colorful and memorable flavors.