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Gordon Hayward has understandably been skewered this season over his career-low shooting percentages. He's at 40.2 percent from the field and 30.3 percent from three-point range.
The reason for the struggle has been his move from ancillary scorer to No. 1 option and the added defensive pressure that comes with his new role.
But that doesn't mean 2013-14 has been a complete failure for Hayward. His point forward skills have been on display throughout this season, particularly during Utah's current three-game winning streak:
His shooting percentages over that same span are 28.9 and 22.2. But because he provides so much beyond scoring, Utah has still managed to win all three games.
Such has been the case for Utah and Hayward during this year of discovery. He's averaging 5.6 rebounds and five assists overall—6.6 and 6.2 in wins.
Having the ball in his hands more than ever has led to career highs in both rebounding and assist percentage. But it's a two-edged sword, as previous years suggest he's a better scorer off the ball.
The ideal role for Hayward is a combination of this season and last.
He posted a career-best player efficiency rating of 16.8 during the 2012-13 season as a shooter creating space for Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap. Scoring for Hayward should come in that fashion.
When he's handling the ball, the primary focus needs to be playmaking and creating for others—something he's proven he can do this season.
If he can find that balance, Hayward can be one of the most unique players in the league. A 15-7-and-7 season is within reach.
Jazz fans hope he reaches his potential, and does so in Utah.
Hayward is a restricted free agent this summer, and he could command big offers that may be difficult for the Jazz to match. It does look like that's the team's goal, though:
General manager Dennis Lindsey will have a big decision to make this summer. Does he let a player go who has the potential to be one of the league's only true point forwards? Or does he bank on that potential, hoping it's reached?