Utah Jazz: Gordon Hayward, Derrick Favors can't wait for bigger offensive roles
Scott G Winterton, Deseret News
LAS VEGAS — Much ado has been made in recent weeks about the Utah Jazz losing their top offensive threats this offseason.
Center Al Jefferson, the focal point of Utah’s offense for the past three seasons, took his left-block moves and 18 points a night to Charlotte.
Power forward Paul Millsap, the Jazz’s second scoring option in recent years, skedaddled to Atlanta with his steady production.
Don’t count Derrick Favors among the people fretting about who, what, when, where, why and how the Jazz are going to put points on their fancy new scoreboard with their revamped new team in 2013-14.
The recently turned 22-year-old flashed a grin when asked about how the Jazz offense will cope in the Post Big Al/Not-So-Big Paul Era.
“It’s time,” Favors said, “for two other people to be the new leading scorers.”
The two candidates best positioned to take over an offensive responsibility that’s been shouldered by Jefferson and Millsap are participating together this week at Team USA’s minicamp.
Who knows if Favors and Gordon Hayward will be able to match the 7,600 points Jefferson and Millsap combined to score over the past three seasons?
One thing is certain.
The soon-to-be fourth-year veterans can’t wait to have increased offensive opportunities — and the accompanying responsibilities.
“I’m really excited,” Hayward said after Tuesday’s practice session at UNLV’s Mendenhall Center. “It’s going to be a challenge, for sure. But it’s time. I’m ready to step up and take that challenge.”
The new-look Jazz will need somebody to do that.
Even with their reliable post players last season, Utah only ranked 13th in the NBA in scoring with 98.0 points per game.
In a remarkable indication of the organization's overhaul, Hayward is the only player on the Jazz's current roster who averaged double digits in the NBA last season.
Utah had five players in the 10 points-plus range in 2012-13, but Jefferson (17.8 ppg), Millsap (14.6 ppg), Mo Williams (12.9 ppg) and Randy Foye (10.8 ppg) will all have new homes next year.
Hayward was third on the team with a 14.1 scoring average on 43.5 percent shooting, while Favors produced 9.4 points an outing on 48.2 percent shooting.
The Team USA hopefuls, who’ll undergo contract-extension negotiations this summer, will have plenty of chances to improve all of those numbers in the future.
“We’ve just got to come in and work harder,” said Favors, who knows something about hard work after training with Jazz big man coach Karl Malone this summer. “Obviously, we’re going to have to adjust, but it should be fun. It’ll be exciting.”
The Jazz, Hayward noted, will likely veer a bit away from the rigid inside-out philosophy that’s been in place since 2010-11 to capitalize on the strengths of their dearly departed post players.
With rookie Trey Burke running the show from the point guard position, the Jazz are likely to focus more on one of his strengths — scoring off of screens. Favors and Hayward are also adept at that style of offense.
“You’ve got to adapt to the players that you have — maybe a little more pick-and-roll, perimeter-oriented stuff,” Hayward said, anticipating possible offensive changes.
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