Now that the NBA Draft Lottery is out of the way, it's time to start profiling the Pacers possibilities for 1st Round picks. The profiles will follow the same format as my 2nd Rounders, with a little bit more detail.
The Pacers received the 10th pick in the Lottery, but several possibilities for trading down and/or acquiring multiple picks have been floating around. For that reason I'm going to examine anyone who might help the Pacers, and then discuss within the profile any steps which might need to be taken to acquire that player.
We have just over a month until the draft, so I'll try to get a profile out every day or two. Here's who we'll be looking at today:
Gordon Hayward - SF - 6' 8" 211lbs. - Butler University
- At 6'8" in shoes with a 211lb. frame Hayward has ideal size for an NBA small forward. What may surprise many people is that he's also very solid athletically. His no-step vertical leap measured out at 30.5", higher than John Wall, Jarvis Varnado, Gani Lawal, Al-Farouq Aminu, Dominque Jones, Craig Brackins and several other players noted for their athleticism. At the NBA Draft combine he posted the 12th fastest time out of 45 players in the full court sprint. He is not an athletic freak but he has more than enough in this department to hold his own in the NBA.
- Hayward is a very intelligent and versatile offensive player. He spent a considerable amount of time handling the ball for Butler. He seems comfortable bringing the ball up and initiating the offense, whether in transition off a defensive rebound, or getting into half-court sets off a made basket. In terms of scoring, Hayward has similar versatility. A natural small forward, he spent a large number of his college minutes playing at power forward. This gave him a chance to work out of the low and high posts, work as a spot up shooter, as well run off screens. Hayward has the burgeoning ability to take defenders off the dribble and get to the basket. He draws fouls at an above average rate, and has excellent touch finishing around the basket.
- Hayward is a very good defender. He is not exceptional athletically, but is exceptional fundamentally. He always gives maximum effort, moves his feet, and uses his length and strength well. With his role for Butler last year, he had a chance to defend wings and post players, and this experience should help him deal with the variety of NBA small forwards he will see next season.
- Hayward is an excellent rebounder for his position. Having played so much power forward for Butler, he is used to rebounding against bigger, stronger players. He uses his non-stop motor, as well as excellent fundamentals and body-control to grab rebounds in the paint and out of his area.
- Comparisons to current NBA players drive me nuts, but D.J. Foster of ClipperBlog had an excellent answer for one of the players Hayward is frequently compared to:
Who he’s not: Adam Morrison
Detractors of Hayward will bring up Adam Morrison’s name in the next few weeks, but those comparisons are way off-base. Morrison was a terrible athlete in college but an incredible high-volume scorer who took and regularly made shots with guys drenched all over him. He had absolutely maximized his athletic ability, and once the athletes were far superior to him in the pros, it took away his ability to rise up over anyone and get off his shot. Hayward isn’t nearly as one-dimensional or as limited athletically as Morrison. Morrison was a scorer while Hayward is very versatile, good at a lot of things but not great at anything. - D.J. Foster
- Hayward's 3PT shooting percentages dropped significantly this past season, falling from 44.8% to 29.8%. Both Jonathan Givony and D.J. Foster pointed out in their profiles that this can be mostly attributed to the increased defensive attention he received this season. Hayward has a tendency to shorten his follow-through when aggressively closed out on. Givony and Foster had different takes on what this means for his pro career.
The main adjustment great collegiate shooters have when moving on to the pro game is the speed of the defense on their rotations and closeouts. With that said, it doesn’t help Hayward’s cause that he was often matched up against opposing teams’ power forwards, who won’t nearly have the quickness that NBA small forwards possess. While Hayward certainly won’t be a number one option in the pros and, as such, will have less attention focused solely on him, it’s not unreasonable to suggest that his percentages, with a moved back line, will lean more towards his sophomore campaign than his freshman year. - D.J. Foster
As the clear-cut first option for coach Brad Stevens last season, Hayward was defended more effectively than he was in his first season at Butler, and he took some shots that he may not have taken as a freshman. In 2009, nearly 75% of his catch-and-shoot jumpers were unguarded, according to Synergy Sports Technology. He saw less than half of such attempts go uncontested in 2010. His smooth mechanics and sound form speak to his ability to be a more effective player at the next level when he reverts back to being a complementary option. He’ll reap the benefits of playing next to quicker guards and having more space to operate out on the perimeter. - Jonathan Givony
- Hayward has all the skills of a terrific complementary player. The problem is that he has never had to use them in a complementary role. There may be an adjustment period as he gets used to handling the ball less, and learning his role in the offense.
- This not really a weakness, but Hayward appears to have limited upside when compared to some other available prospects. He will certainly refine his skills and be a solid NBA contributor, but doesn't have an All-Star ceiling.
How he can help the Pacers -
- There are widely differing opinions on Gordon Hayward, especially in Pacerland. My over-simplified take is that casual Pacer fans would like the Hayward pick, with the backstory of local, small-school boy makes it big. More serious Pacer fans don't like Hayward as much, not necessarily because of their perception of his skills, but because they think there is better talent available and don't want to see a player drafted just for his backstory. As I said this is certainly an over-simplification of the situation, but both sides seem to have at least a partial claim on the likely truth.
- As much as we hate to admit it, the Pacers are a team in serious financial trouble. One quick-fix solution is to energize the fan base and sell tickets. In this regard, Hayward fits the team needs as much as anyone besides John Wall. Of course the opposite argument is that winning games sells tickets more than personnel, and that there are players available in the draft who can help the team win more games next season than Hayward.
- In a very functional sense Hayward has some skills that can really help the Pacers next season and down the road. He has an extremely high Basketball IQ and would fit in well with next year's team on both ends of the floor. Hayward can hit the spot up jumpshot, defend his position, move the ball in the framework of the offense, add rebounding to the small forward position, and in some situations act as a facilitator and create shots for his teammates off the dribble. While he is not exceptional in any of those areas, the Pacers struggled in every one of them last season. It might be nice to add one player who can help in all those areas rather than adding a whole bunch of guys who can each do one thing well.
- I mean this as a compliment, but Hayward is a very safe pick. He doesn't have the upside of some of the other player's available, but projects to be a solid, long term-contributor on a good team. The Pacers need a large talent upgrade, but the draft isn't the only way to achieve this. If the Pacers can add some significant contributors in free agency or through a trade, Hayward could be a piece that helps put them over the top.
- Hayward is projected to go in the late lottery, and probably won't be available if the Pacers trade down. If they want him they will probably need to take him with the tenth pick.
Video - (Hilarious music choice on the highlights, but some PG-13 language)
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