SALT LAKE CITY — Gordon Hayward’s increased vocal presence is one of the developing stories of the Utah Jazz’s training camp.
The longest-tenured Jazz player, who’s about to enter his fourth NBA season, was challenged to take on more of a leadership role, and so far he’s risen to the occasion.
It seems the usually reserved young man’s voice has even risen on occasion.
While talking about his new responsibilities as a team leader, the 23-year-old smiled and admitted that he got on one of his teammates at Monday’s practice.
“I had to yell at Turk yesterday,” Hayward said Tuesday at shootaround before the Jazz beat the Golden State Warriors in their 2013 preseason opener.
Wait. Hayward yell? And at 6-11, 247-pound Enes Kanter?
Video proof, please.
“This training camp we came in as the leaders,” Jazz power forward Derrick Favors said. “Gordon came in, he was vocal. He was serious about it. You could tell.”
No, but seriously, Hayward yelled?
The soft-spoken kid from Butler turned up the conversation volume — and against another teammate?
Well, sort of. Or maybe not.
“He didn’t really yell at me,” Kanter said, cracking a grin. “I just didn’t box out. That’s it.”
Kanter actually liked that Hayward pointed it out.
“It’s going to be his fourth year,” Kanter said, “so if he yells, he’s a veteran.”
Favors said Hayward has been more vocal since he started talking during a Team USA minicamp in Las Vegas this summer.
His coach couldn’t be happier with the development.
Asked about the play that resulted in Kanter getting an earful, Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin was quick to say Hayward “should have” made it known that the missed box out wasn’t acceptable.
“It’s just a mental lapse that young guys tend to do, and Gordon’s been through it a little more,” Corbin said, adding that he’s going to count on Hayward to help others avoid and/or learn from mental mistakes. “Young guys have a tendency to think that it’s not a big deal to take a break and ‘Bam!’ it can cost you.”
Corbin said Hayward’s personality hasn’t changed. He’s just adapting with his new role and knows that he has to lead by example and expression.
“It’s good to see him he’s been doing it all training camp — stepping up and being more vocal,” Corbin said. “I think he’s just growing into the spot. He’s more comfortable here. He’s more comfortable now with the group.”
The transformation is clear to see for outsiders, too.
“I have to be a leader, making sure guys are in the right spots, proving a little calming presence,” Hayward said. “A lot of us haven’t been in this situation playing a lot of minutes, so that’s what I’m going to try to do.”
Just what his bosses asked of him last spring when it was made clear that he’d be given more leadership responsibilities.
“He’s come from being a rookie on the team to being one of the key guys on the team, if not the key guy,” Corbin said. “It’s a drastic change for everybody. We’re jockeying things around. He’s certainly one of the guys that we’re looking for to lead us.”
TIME TO SHINE: Kanter is excited knowing that his chance to play big minutes has arrived. He played inconsistent minutes during his first two NBA seasons after not being able to play in college and a limited amount in high school.
“Now,” he said, “it’s my and other young guys’ opportunity to just go out there and show themselves, show all the fans and everybody that we’re here.”1 comment on this story
SHOULDER THE LOAD: Kanter hadn’t played in front of Jazz fans in a game since March 27 when he injured his left shoulder, which required season-ending surgery.
“I talked to the doctor before I came here. He told me that my left shoulder is stronger than my right shoulder,” Kanter said. “I feel so much better on the court. I’m not even scared about it. I can go 100 percent.”
He laughed when asked if he’ll try to start shooting as a southpaw: “I might shoot 3s.”