Utah Jazz: Gordon Hayward, Jimmer Fredette know the transition from college to the pros isn't easy
No longer big man on campus
"I feel like even if I'm not hitting the shots, I'm still trying to do the little things to help us win — contribute playing defense, getting rebounds, just making sure the offense is running correctly," Hayward said. "I'm just trying to do whatever I can."
Learning how to play consistently and perform how you practice, Corbin believes, is part of the growth process.
"He's a capable shooter," Corbin said of Hayward, a would-be senior at Butler. "You've just got to make them in the game, that's all. Take the right shots. Continue to work."
Because he left Butler after his sophomore season, Hayward has officially played in more professional games (88) than college contests (69).
But it's been an adjustment — especially early on — to get used to not being The Big Man On Campus. Though he's never crossed paths with Fredette, he suspects the Sacramento guard is trying to deal with a similar transition.
Almost every NBA athlete was The Man on his college team, so not many plays are drawn up for rookies. The 24-second shot clock speeds the game up. You have to be patient but prepared.
All of that, Hayward said, can be "difficult mentally" for new NBA guys.
"It's different opportunities that you're given," Hayward said. "In college, all the plays are run through you. You're getting the isos (isolation plays). You're given multiple opportunities to do what you do. When you get to the next level, it's not always necessarily there because you have other guys who may be better at doing a certain thing. It's an adjustment."
It might even be a bigger one for Fredette, who has played better in recent games but struggled mightily early on while trying to find his role and shot with the Kings.
"I don't know if I would consider myself a high-profile college player," Hayward said. "I went to the national championship, but he led the nation in scoring. He did a lot more in college."
Hayward doesn't dwell in the past, expecting the Utah situation to be like Butler — and certainly not at this early point in his career. He's not leading his team in scoring like he did with the Bulldogs and he's struggled, but comparing the NBA sophomore to the NCAA sophomore can be deceiving.
"I'm still confident in the abilities that I have," Hayward said. "I've probably gotten a lot better since college. It's just different."
Hayward's season might be different than what some fans had hoped, especially considering the end of his rookie campaign. But he's not about to let negative feedback online, on sports radio or elsewhere affect him.
"I take everything with a grain of salt, just keep working at it," Hayward said. "I always say on Twitter, 'Improve every day.' That's what you try to do, whether it's been a bad day the day before or a really good day the day before."
Hayward's focus is on improving tonight and helping his team beat the defending NBA champions, but he looks forward to his first taste of Jimmermania.
"It'll be fun when he comes to town," Hayward said. "It should probably be pretty crazy."
College (BYU): 139 games 18.7 ppg 3.7 apg 45.4 FG% 39.3 3PT%
NBA (Kings): 19 games 8.5 ppg 2.1 apg 36.3 FG% 36.5 3PT %
College (Butler): 69 games 14.4 ppg 7.4 rpg 47.0 FG% 36.9 3PT%
NBA (Jazz): 88 games 5.9 ppg 2.2 rpg 45.4 FG% 38.9 3PT%
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