Utah Jazz: Guard Gordon Hayward ready to lead by example — and expression
Though Richard Jefferson has been around the league for a dozen years and knows the Jazz system from afar, he admitted he’s been leaning on the younger players in Hayward’s generation — including Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter — to fully get up to speed. He believes it’s a good exercise for them to help teach their teammates.
“That’s how they kind of grow and mature and become leaders and more vocal,” Jefferson said. “The ability to lead (is) the ability to make people want to follow you.”
While Hayward continues to work on leading by expression, he's been toiling away at leading by example since last season.
One of the big signs of leadership shown by Hayward since he received the advice from Corbin, general manager Dennis Lindsey and Co. was to take time out of his Team USA minicamp training to visit with the Jazz’s summer league squad in Orlando.
Since then, he’s also worked hard to improve his body and his basketball body of work. He hired a new trainer in Indianapolis and worked out hard at St. Vincent’s Sports Performance to maximize his downtime.
His overall physical fitness numbers at P3 in Santa Barbara, Calif., showed a bigger improvement this offseason than anybody else from the Jazz.
“I got a lot faster, a little stronger. I was able to do over a month-and-a-half straight of workouts every day,” Hayward said. “That was just really good for me.
"Cleaned a lot of stuff up as far as my core goes and balance. I definitely got a lot better.”
Hayward, the only player on the Jazz team who averaged double figures in the NBA last season, also knows he has to be more aggressive offensively this season. But there’s a delicate balance. In the past, he’s gotten frustrated at himself for flying under the basket in hopes of being bailed out by referees. Now, he’s continuing to work on a mid-range game that will allow him to add Jeff Hornacek-like floaters and short-range fade shots to his ever-increasing arsenal.
The Jazz are hoping the 6-foot-8 guard/forward will be able to better capitalize on the height advantage he’ll have over most wings.
“He’s a stringy, strong guy,” Corbin said. “But he’s so long (he should) be able to take advantage of his height down low. His quickness and fallaway jump shot are really good. We look for him to get more touches at the basket.”
And, more importantly, to be influential in a positive way even when he’s nowhere near the hoop.
As for his team, Hayward likes what he’s seeing so far. He said players were sore — a good sore — from working so hard in back-to-back two-a-days on Tuesday and Wednesday to open camp. The Jazz only had one practice Thursday morning before attending the UCLA-Utah football game at Rice-Eccles Stadium as a team that night.
“I think it’s good that guys are working. I think we all realize that we have a lot of work to do,” he said. “This is who we are as a team and I think we’ve embraced that.”
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