2013--14 RECORD: 25--57 (5TH IN NORTHWEST) COACH: QUIN SNYDER (1ST SEASON WITH JAZZ)
Gordon Hayward's 2013--14 season was messy, underwhelming and very much necessary. It was his first chance to function without big men Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap, who had combined to anchor the Jazz in Hayward's first three seasons. The 6'8" swingman had played a supporting part, hitting spot-up jumpers, cutting well off the post and driving against a rotating defense. With the two departures, however, Hayward took on a larger, more creative role, the mandate being to broaden his game.
The increased burden enhanced his skill at the expense of his efficiency—a common trade-off when a player becomes the top offensive option, especially on a team like Utah's with few other scorers to share the load or playmakers to get Hayward easier shots. In nearly doubling his pick-and-roll usage, though, Hayward pushed through previous limitations by trial and error. Most notably: His shooting in those plays improved to 41.9% from 33.6%, according to Synergy Sports. His weaknesses with timing and impatience as a ballhandler faded with repetition, and Hayward emerged more confident and capable.
Another season with similar responsibilities will make the 24-year-old even more well-rounded. With his malleable game, Hayward will have ample opportunities to hone his off-the-dribble repertoire and jump-shooting, defend wings of all kinds and read the floor from every angle. When the rebuilding Jazz are finally ready to define what they need from Hayward, he'll be equipped to deliver it.
12.8 PPG; 5.7 APG; 38.0 FG%; 33.0 3FG%
14.0 PPG; 3.3 RPG; 2.7 APG; 45.7 FG%
16.2 PPG; 5.2 APG; 5.1 RPG; 41.3 FG%
13.3 PPG; 8.7 RPG; 1.5 BPG; 52.2 FG%
12.3 PPG; 7.5 RPG; 0.5 BPG; 49.1 FG%
6.8 PPG; 5.3 RPG; 0.9 APG; 55.1 FG%
2.3 PPG; 3.4 RPG; 0.9 BPG; 48.6 FG%
Burke and Exum show promise in tandem, and Favors breaks out, solidifying the core.
A third consecutive nonplayoff season yields little player progress with no superstar in sight.
A RIVAL SCOUT SIZES UP THE JAZZ
Last season they asked more of their young players, and the results were mixed. Gordon Hayward struggled as a No. 1 option, and Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter were up and down as replacements for Paul Millsap and Al Jefferson. Quin Snyder can help with their development. He is really good at giving guys confidence.... Hayward has to take a significant step to be worth his new contract [four years, $63 million]. I'd like to see him post up more to use his size, reducing the pressure to have to shoot jumpers and create from the perimeter.... One major question is whether Favors and Kanter will be an effective duo. How much can they play together, because neither spaces the floor? ... Favors needs to be able to make 15-footers. Kanter has the more offensive skills of the two, but he doesn't play big enough at the rim to anchor a defense.... Trey Burke forced a lot of shots as a rookie. When things go bad, he can't just be looking to score. Burke is quick enough to be a bothersome defender on the ball; he should watch an undersized guy like the Spurs' Patty Mills, who is tenacious.... Alec Burks is set to start, but I see him more as a Jamal Crawford--type bench scorer. His first thought is to get to the rim.... The first thing Dante Exum has to do is prove he can make perimeter shots.... When Rudy Gobert is in the game, you know he's in the game. He's so long. Gobert is raw, but the shot-altering ability is there.... Where will the locker room leadership come from on such a green roster?
RUSS ISABELLA/USA TODAY SPORTS
Favors fronts an under-25 first unit.