Gordon Hayward got his first taste of NBA action early Monday afternoon in Orlando. Although his numbers from the opening game of the Summer League were not all that impressive (8 points, 5 rebounds, 2 steals), he was able to show many in attendance just how versatile he stands to be at the next level.
With Game 1 of the Orlando Summer League seemingly out of reach, Hayward did his best to push the Jazz to an impressive comeback victory, surprisingly, with his defense rather than his offense.
After playing the passing lanes and scoring on a breakaway dunk cutting the Bobcat’s lead to four with less than a minute remaining, the ninth overall pick in the 2010 NBA draft helped force another pivotal turnover on Charlotte’s ensuing inbounds play.
Although the Utah Jazz wound up, ultimately, losing their opening game 85 – 83 to the Charlotte Bobcats, Jerry Sloan and company have to be impressed by the heady play of their rookie small forward. He showed many in attendance and watching on NBA TV just how versatile he should prove to be at the next level. Definitely a solid, smart Jerry Sloan type player who will play hard until the final buzzer.
His ability to rebound, defend and make plays for his teammates stood out more in his professional debut than his true calling card, which is, obviously, shooting the basketball from the perimeter. Getting the first game finally under his belt will surely help the 6’8″ Hayward get rid of some of the opening butterflies and jitters and, utlimately, help him get more comfortable competing against NBA talent as the Summer League continues.
Charlotte was led by their two athletic picks from the 2009 NBA draft, Gerald Henderson (20 points on 7 of 13 shooting) and the active Derrick Brown (20 points, 5 rebounds, and 3 steals).
Tyrece Rice (12 points on 3 of 5 shooting), formerly of Boston College, led the charge back for the Utah Jazz as they trailed 52 – 38 at intermission. Power forward James Augustine led the Jazz with 20 points on 9 of 10 shooting.
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