Led by Gordon Hayward's magnificent 29-point explosion, the Utah Jazz throttled the Houston Rockets last night 103-92.
Being lead by the precocious Hayward is exactly how the Jazz are going to improve as a team and solidify themselves as a playoff contender in a deep Western Conference.
Sure the Jazz boast a bounty of skilled bigs with Al Jefferson, Paul Millsap, Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter, but Hayward is the key cog that will take the Jazz over the top.
After losing Deron Williams, the Jazz have been yearning for a leader to take the reigns and in the past couple months Hayward has done just that.
During that time, Hayward has shot very efficiently from all spots on the floor: 49.5 percent from field-goal range, 43 percent from three-point range and 85.5 percent from the free-throw line. He's had a healthy scoring average of 15.85 during March and the first several games of April. Not to mention, he's kicked in about three assists and 4.5 rebounds per game as well.
At only 22 years old, Hayward has made tremendous strides especially in his consistency. During the beginning of the season, he was up and down every game. On any given night, you could expect 20 points from him and just as easily expect him to score less than 10.
Now, however, that has changed. Just about every game you can pencil him in for at least 15 points and a few assists and rebounds as well.
His stat-sheet stuffing ways haven't been limited to the offensive end either. Coming into the NBA, his defense was the biggest question mark attached to him. With hard work and effort though, his defensive improvement has shown on plays like this.
The Jazz have wisely brought Blake Ahearn on board as well, which will help give them some depth at the point guard position and they're only going to benefit from having a third point guard they can rely on.
Currently the Jazz are fighting for a playoff spot and can certainly learn from the style the Denver Nuggets play with.
No one player dominates the offense, but they have a bunch of talented players that play their own respective roles extremely well.
The Jazz have the size in their frontcourt to bang with any NBA team, especially once Kanter and Favors fulfill their true potential, and having an all-around youngster like Hayward to be the leader is exactly what they need to push them over the top.
Considering that he's already becoming a consistent offensive threat, as well as a gritty defender at only 22 years old, the sky is the limit and it won't be long before people see why he was worth a top-10 pick in the 2010 NBA Draft.
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