clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Gordon Hayward catching, shooting and moving off-ball

Gordon Hayward's ability to catch and shoot while reading the defense makes him a great option on offense as Utah adjusts to a new frontcourt. The Jazz must play to his strengths.

Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

The Utah Jazz have moved on from the Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap era, watching their top two scorers leave the organization this summer. This will put a greater emphasis on the young frontcourt of Enes Kanter and Derrick Favors, but their third-leading scorer last season was shooting guard Gordon Hayward. Hayward's ability to catch and shoot while moving off the ball is what makes him just as promising a prospect.

Hayward's role in the Jazz's offense has increased each year, but he also shot a career-low from the field last season. Though it's tempting to do otherwise with its stripped-down roster, Utah must play to Hayward's strengths, which is his ability to move off-ball and use screens to create space. Hayward shot  just 33 percent in isolation, according to

In this example, the Jazz and Sacramento Kings are tied at 102 with 10.3 seconds left in the fourth quarter. Instead of going to their leading scorers in Jefferson or Millsap, Utah calls a play to get Hayward an open shot after coming off a screen. Hayward sets a screen in the paint for Millsap and then cuts back to the top of the arc. Favors sets a screen for Hayward at the elbow:


Hayward curls around the screen beautifully, running his man into Favors, and cuts toward the ball-handler. He then gathers the pass and drains the game-winning jumper:



Video of the play:

Here's a two-minute compilation of Hayward running his defender into screens and draining jumpers:

If a defender tries to shoot over the off-ball screen, Hayward is great at adjusting by cutting backdoor. Here, Terrence Ross tries to jumps ahead of the play, but Hayward immediately cuts behind him:



Hayward completes the layup off Millsap's pass:



Video of the play:

Hayward was also Utah's top three-point shooter, making 41.5 percent of his attempts from beyond the arc. He made 52 percent of his three-point field goals moving off screens and 46 percent when spotting up, according to He is particularly good spotting up off post players.

Here, Jefferson is in the low post and Hayward is the weak-side corner shooter. Danny Green turns his attention to helping Tim Duncan, but Jefferson still needs to pass through three Spurs defenders to find Hayward. Hayward reads the defense, recognizes Green has his head turned and rotates around to the other side of the court for a clear passing lane:


It's a subtle movement, but Hayward catches the defense unprepared and is now an easy outlet pass for Jefferson. Upon catching the ball, Hayward sinks the open three:



Video of the play:

Hayward will be a great release valve for incoming rookie point guard Trey Burke. Here, Earl Watson drives into the paint after curling around an off-ball screen set by Kanter. He drives and pulls the defense into the paint. Austin Rivers is sliding over to help before Watson drives past Jason Smith:


Hayward has his hands up ready to catch and shoot from beyond the arc. Rivers has his back completely turned on Hayward and can't recover in time to contest the three:



Video of the play:

Hayward doesn't create his own offense as a ball-handler well, which could be a problem because the Jazz don't have much perimeter talent outside of him, but his ability to be a catch-and-shoot threat for Utah while he maneuvers around screens make him a great half-court player. He should also be the Jazz's top three-point shooting perimeter player again and has a chance to be their leading scorer as he whips around Kanter and Favors.

Playing to Hayward's strengths is important for the Jazz. It gives them a reliable player to lean on.