"Every year, he seems to add something to his game," Corbin said of George, who was the 10th player picked in the 2009 NBA draft — one spot after the Jazz selected Hayward at No. 9. "He's understanding what's gonna help him be as good as he wants to be and in turn help his team be one of the best teams in the league and have a chance to win it all. So he understands that's a lot on how he continues to grow individually and how he grows with his team.
"Just watching a young guy like that every year make steps forward and how now he's embracing a leadership role and then going from being a good player to a really good player now to being a great player and how he's trying to make that next step (is impressive).
"It takes awhile to grow into it, man," Corbin said, "and he's a great example for Gordon to look at a guy who's kinda taken it step by step by step. And Paul is one of the guys he can look at because when (Danny) Granger went down, his role increased and he did some things where when they started trusting him and he got a bigger role and now he's one of the guys for them — if not the guy. So there are some comparisons there.
"He's always been thought as being a good player, but who knows how great a guy can be until he gets into this league and his talents transfer? And he's grown every year."
That's precisely what the Jazz brain trust has in mind for Hayward, Utah's own versatile 6-8 swingman who has been given a much greater leadership role this season with this young, rebuilding ballclub.
Hayward's hoped-for ascension into becoming one of the league's elite players has not happened nearly as quickly as that of George, who has blossomed into a budding superstar.
But that hope remains, and after struggling through a dreadful three-week shooting slump in which he hit just 29 percent of his shots from the field, Hayward busted out of it in a big way by connecting on 12 of 18 shots on his way to a season-high 29 points in Utah's victory over Houston on Monday night — giving the Jazz (4-15) their first back-to-back wins of the season.
"It's just a good feeling to see the shots going in," Hayward said. "I got it going early with some layups and free throws, and that's a good way to start a game. The basket just seems a little bigger and you get yourself going.
"You just go back in the gym every day and try not to worry about it," he said of breaking out of his slump. "Just try to do other things to get yourself going in the game — not worry about the shots; make sure that you're defending, you're creating for others and doing other things to help the team.
"I think we're building on a lot of things," Hayward said of Utah's mini-winning streak. "We're getting guys back healthier, but we've still obviously got a lot of work to do. We're still last in the West, and we're trying to get better and better. But it's good to see that we're improving, finishing out games and picking up some wins."
And as for his budding, friendly rivalry with George — who plays for the pro team in Hayward's home state of Indiana — the Jazz player smiled as he answered.
"We came out of the same draft class and we've been friends since," Hayward said. "We play in the summer together and initially we had the same agent, so we talk back and forth.
"And he obviously trains in Indy sometimes during the summer and that's where I live during the summer. He's a good guy and a good basketball player."
Jazz fans will get a chance to see just how good George is — and possibly get a good, up-close look at the next NBA championship team — Wednesday night at ESA.
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