RTC NBA Draft Profiles: Gordon HaywardPosted by rtmsf on June 1st, 2010
Over the course of the next month until the NBA Draft on June 24, RTC will be rolling out comprehensive profiles of the 30-35 collegians we feel have the best chance to hear their names called by David Stern in the first round that night. There won’t be any particular order to the list, but you can scroll back through all the finished profiles by clicking here.
Player Name: Gordon Hayward
Height/Weight: 6’8, 211
NBA Position: Small Forward
Projected Draft Range: Mid-1st round
Overview: Gordon Hayward emerged as the leader and go-to scorer in just his sophomore season playing on the hallowed hardwood of Hinkle Fieldhouse, garnering conference player of the year honors and playing an integral role in Butler’s unfathomable run to the National Championship game. Prior to last year’s breakout campaign on a national level, most draft prognosticators didn’t expect Hayward to reach first round status until after his junior or senior seasons. With a flurry of outstanding performances against quality opponents, scouts began to realize more and more how the baby-faced assassin could positively impact their NBA squads. Hayward notched 20+ point performances against Georgetown, Ohio State and Xavier in three straight games, scored 20+ in their two most difficult road conference games at Wright State and at Milwaukee, and dropped 22 points in their tough Elite Eight victory over Kansas State. Hayward’s presence and importance for Brad Stevens’ crew was never more evident than during his one game sidelined due to injury when Butler nearly fell to Valparaiso in their final Horizon League contest. Throughout the 2009-10 season, Hayward showed a fantastic pull-up shooting quality, an inherent ability to be in perfect position for rebounds (8.2 RPG as a sophomore) and the length to defend either small forwards or power forwards at the collegiate level.
Will Translate to the NBA: Hayward experienced a growth spurt late in his high school playing career, meaning he developed guard skills that translated smoothly to his current 6’8 frame. His ball-handling and shooting stroke are as strong as any small forward in the draft. Most scouts are not concerned about the precipitous drop in three-point percentage from his freshman to sophomore seasons. Hayward was the centerpiece of any defensive game plan against Butler last season, while at the next level the percentage of open shots from long range that Hayward will attempt should jump considerably. It wouldn’t shock us if Hayward shot 40% from three as a rookie. The Indiana native has also improved dramatically on his mid-range shooting game and utilizes a patented crossover to create space and knock down jumpers. Hayward has always been a reliable shooter from the charity stripe, knocking down 80%+ in both collegiate campaigns.
Needs Work: Hayward is very comfortable coming off screens and popping from mid-range, but there’s some question regarding whether he can get to the rim on penetration at the next level. While Hayward periodically could draw fouls by attacking the basket off the dribble at Butler, his lack of speed, strength and explosiveness could prevent this from translating. This lack of speed and explosiveness could also hurt Hayward when he’s trying to defend quicker small forwards in the NBA, even if he does show a consistent work ethic and intensity on that end of the floor. Scouts also question his lack of post moves and periodic lapses of aggression as negative signs, but as someone who will likely be playing the part of a role player on a successful team, those concerns don’t worry us.
Comparison Players: Former Duke small forward Mike Dunleavy seems like an accurate comparison for Hayward. Both players are intelligent, savvy, boast a smooth shooting stroke and can hold their own on the glass and on the defensive end, although Dunleavy is slightly bigger. Another more recent comparison is Arizona’s Chase Budinger. While Budinger is more athletic, Hayward has superior playmaking skills and a higher basketball IQ. We could envision Hayward’s career playing out similarly to Dunleavy: 26-28 MPG, 11-12 PPG, capable three-point shooter and a weapon off the bench on a team with playoff aspirations.
Best Case Scenario: If not the next Larry Bird (just kidding), the best case projection for Hayward is the second or third scoring option on a championship team in the mold of what Hedo Turkoglu provided for the Magic before he bolted for the Raptors in free agency. His ceiling is developing into a 43/39/85 shooter that’s paired with a point guard that can find him running off screens and a dominant big man that creates space for his shooting prowess. Nobody is expecting Hayward to mold into the alpha dog on an NBA team playing deep into May, but he certainly could be considered a success playing the role of second or third option on a winner.
2013 Projection: We wish we could project green pastures for Hayward, but we’re not sure we see his NBA career playing out that smoothly. By 2013, Hayward should be featured in some NBA rotation as a seventh or eighth man off the pine to provide a scoring punch, but it’s less clear if he can ever develop into a big-time impact starter at the next level. His intelligence and shooting stroke are positives, but Hayward is the classic case of leaving school when his stock is at his highest. His lack of NBA athleticism, speed and inability to guard quicker small forwards at the next level could make him a slight liability as a starter.
Best NBA Fit: We’ll be stunned if Hayward goes any higher than the Clippers at #8, but they’re a definite possibility. He’s seemingly a strong fit alongside Baron Davis and Eric Gordon in the backcourt and Blake Griffin manning the post. There’s also word the Jazz are interested at #9 to replace free agent Kyle Korver. Any team in the #8-#17 range can find room on their roster for the talented swingman.
* Zach Hayes contributed this profile to RTC