Following his performance in Game 3 of the playoff series between the Utah Jazz and Los Angeles Clippers, it didn’t seem like anything could stop Utah small forward Gordon Hayward. His career-high 40 point-performance wasn’t enough to get the win but it sent a message that the former Butler Bulldog was for real and wasn’t going to lay down. In fact, his 21 first-quarter points was a franchise playoff record.
Alas, it turned out that Hayward did find an opponent who could stop him in Game 4: food poisoning.
Whether he’s back to 100 percent or not for pivotal Game 5, Hayward’s performance was a reminder to the rest of the league that the seven-year veteran has made good on being the Jazz’s No. 1 draft pick in 2010. He’s coming off a regular season in which he averaged career-bests scoring (21.9 PPG), rebounds (5.4 RPG), and FT percentage (84 percent) and was also named an NBA All-Star for the first time.
Perhaps you wouldn’t be surprised to find out that a lot of people never expected any of this to happen. Instead, as the 2010 NBA Draft got underway, they were too busy comparing him to other doomed white guys to notice his possibilities.
Bilas just damns Hayward with the Luke Jackson reference. Luke is Hayward with a perm.
— Kelly Dwyer (@KDonhoops) June 25, 2010
Bilas on Hayward: "not a great shooter. Not a great defender. Not real athletic."
— Jeremiah Jensen (@JJSportsBeat) June 25, 2010
Can anyone see success for Gordon Hayward in the NBA? I mean Jay Bilas just compared him to Luke Jackson. Not good. lol.
— Brandon Sprague (@BrandonSprague) June 25, 2010
— Matt Whitener (@CheapSeatFan) June 25, 2010
— John and Hans (@johnhans1280) June 25, 2010
i am not drafting hayward, i just CANNOT do it. joel alexander part 2
— Frank Hanrahan (@JFrankHanrahan) June 24, 2010
Jazz No. 1 pick Gordon Hayward in projected to play like Luke Jackson in the NBA. Jackson has played for 4 teams in 4 years with 3.5ppg avg
— Ben Maller (@benmaller) June 25, 2010
And when people weren’t comparing him to other white guys, they were just flat-out saying which other guys the Jazz should have drafted instead because they’ll be better.
Have a feeling Luke Babbitt will be more successful than Hayward.
— Kevin Zimmerman (@KZimmermanAZ) June 25, 2010
Jazz will always regret taking Gordon "Adam Morrison/Jared Jeffries" Hayward over Luke "Solid NBA rotation player" Babbitt
— Daniel Poneman (@SwagAir) June 25, 2010
Like Hayward, Babbitt has played seven seasons in the NBA, but is now on his third team and averaging 4.7 PPG over the course of his career.
— Darren Wolfson (@DWolfsonKSTP) June 25, 2010
Wes Johnson has been a serviceable role player over his seven-year career but there’s no debate who has been better or more valuable.
Many other pundits didn’t need to compare Hayward to anyone else. They just knew in their heart of hearts that he was gonna stink.
I need the Kiper sound effect, b/c the Jazz just do not understand what the draft is all about.
— Anthony Lima (@SportsBoyTony) June 25, 2010
@DKLogan7 is Gordon Hayward really…the 9th best NBA prospect?
— ™Marcus (@TheMisterMarcus) June 25, 2010
Great move Jazz. Hayward's twin sister says she has has more competitive drive. Should have taken her.
— Clay Travis (@ClayTravis) June 25, 2010
Hayward is not athletic, he's not a great shooter, and he doesn't have a natural position. Other than that…
— Matthew Gertz (@MattGertz) June 25, 2010
Finally, there were the people who got specific enough to figure out if and when Hayward would eventually get playing time for the Jazz, if he ever would at all.
not a Hayward fan. fine if others like or love him. Just don't see him being any kind of impact guy in the NBA. Bench player.
— rickbozich (@rickbozich) June 24, 2010
Hayward has appeared in 521 games for the Jazz in his career. He has started in 408 of them.
Funny, I'm not expecting him to start…ever. RT @NYDNDickWeiss not expecting hayward to start as a rookie
— Justin Young (@JustinDYoung) June 25, 2010
So close. Hayward played in 72 games in his rookie season, starting 17 of them.
I'm sorry Hayward is going to have a LOT of trouble getting his shot off. This kid will be wearing a suit and cheering on a team in 4 years.
— Landry Locker (@LandryLocker) June 25, 2010
To be fair, Hayward does wear suits when he’s not playing basketball these days. In his fourth season with the Jazz, however, he started every single game and has started every game he’s played in for Utah since (311 and counting).