by Will Overton
In fantasy basketball making trades is all about timing. Buying a guy while he is slumping right before he turns it around is a magical feeling. Just as good is when you trade away a red hot player right before he comes back down to earth.
It sucks though when you sell that guy because you expect him to fall back and he never does it. An interesting guy to look at in this regard so far this season is Gordon Hayward. To start the season Hayward was white hot to start the season running a stretch of eight games where he averaged 21.9 PPG.
However, the last two games he has scored just 25 points combined and made just 7 of 22 field goals attempted. Does this mean the window is closing on Hayward’s sell high appeal though? And should you be trying to sell high on him anyway? Let’s break this down.
Hayward took a big step forward last season turning into a do a little bit of everything player who ended up getting a max contract deal at the end of the season. Hayward averaged a career best 16.2 PPG last season, and he looks to be erasing that career high in a hurry this year.
As of now Hayward is averaging 18.7 PPG and is carrying the Jazz offense while still managing 5.4 RPG and 4.6 APG. According to ESPN player rater he has been the second best small forward in the league so far.
The question is what is the difference and is it sustainable for him? The biggest difference is the efficiency of Hayward. He’s not taking anymore shots than he took last season, but he’s getting more quality shots. Hayward is actually attempting more threes, but he’s hitting 56% of his shots inside the arc. So we’ve got Hayward hitting more threes, but still shooting a nice percentage.
Can he sustain that? Last season he made just 45% of his shots inside the arc. The big difference is he’s taking more shots inside of ten feet this season. Hayward is taking more threes, but he’s also penetrating the lane more and getting some easier buckets to offset his three point shooting. Do I think he’ll keep up a 47% rate on field goals? Probably not. I do think he could hover right around 45% though which is a big jump from 41% last season.
Eliminating an excessive amount of long twos goes a long way in helping out the FG% of a player. Hayward probably isn’t an elite offensive talent, but he’s very skilled and he’s on a bad team that allows him to be the alpha dog on offense.
If you can swap Hayward for someone like Paul Millsap, I’d jump on that kind of a deal. I don’t see moving him for anyone less than a top 30 player though right now. There may be some regression, but Hayward looks improved at this point from last season and is even more of a threat by hitting more threes now.