Utah Jazz: Gordon Hayward silences ridiculous criticism in Game 2

May 4, 2017; Oakland, CA, USA; Utah Jazz forward Gordon Hayward (20) shoots the basketball against Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green (23) during the fourth quarter in game two of the second round of the 2017 NBA Playoffs at Oracle Arena. The Warriors defeated the Jazz 115-104. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
May 4, 2017; Oakland, CA, USA; Utah Jazz forward Gordon Hayward (20) shoots the basketball against Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green (23) during the fourth quarter in game two of the second round of the 2017 NBA Playoffs at Oracle Arena. The Warriors defeated the Jazz 115-104. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports /

A sports talk radio host recently blasted Gordon Hayward after his Game 1 performance, but the Utah Jazz All-Star certainly proved him wrong last night.

For those of you who missed it, following the Utah Jazz’s Game 1 loss to the Golden State Warriors in the second round of the playoffs, Fox Sports Radio’s “JT the Brick” went off on Gordon Hayward, claiming that the performance of Utah’s leading scorer and first-time All-Star was proof that Gordon isn’t anywhere near deserving of a max contract next season.

He began the rant by simply saying, “Gordon Hayward was a fraud last night. He was an absolute no-show.”

Ironically, the next sentence he uttered was, “It was the first time I ever got to see him play.”

Judging by all the misinformation he spewed over the remainder of the segment, it was pretty clear that such was the case. Did Gordon Hayward have a poor performance in Game 1? Most definitely. But is judging his value as a player and to this Utah Jazz team off of one game fair or realistic at all? Not even close.

You can listen to the full piece via the link in the Tweet below, but to be quite honest it’s not an enjoyable or accurate listen.

Mr. “The Brick”, who more than likely hasn’t even paid attention to the Jazz all year long, obviously missed the fact that Hayward was one of the healthiest players on a team decimated by injuries throughout the season. He carried this team on his back to a 51-win season and the fifth seed in a stacked Western Conference, helping his squad finish above the likes of Russell Westbrook, Mike Conley and Damian Lillard, not to mention a playoff victory over Chris Paul.

Do the Jazz overall have a better and deeper team than those guys’ respective squads – the OKC Thunder, Memphis Grizzlies, Portland Trail Blazers and Los Angeles Clippers? It would certainly appear so. But to say that Gordon Hayward as an individual wasn’t an enormous part of Utah’s success this season would be absolutely absurd. Take him off the team and the Jazz aren’t anywhere close to where they are now.

Perhaps he also missed out on the fact that Hayward was a first-time All-Star this season, upping his scoring average for the sixth straight season to 21.9 points per game while converting at a solid 47.1 percent clip from the field and 39.8 percent from deep.

Maybe he forgot to tune in to the Jazz-Clippers series where Hayward logged a 40-point game and carried the Jazz to the second round of the playoffs for the first time since 2010.

Instead, he decided to base his “expansive knowledge” on Gordon Hayward off of one miserable Game 1 performance. One, I might add, where no Jazz player finished with more than 13 points in an outing where the team as a whole was out of sync and shell-shocked throughout the game.

Now, to The Brick’s defense, the bar for earning a max contract has certainly lowered in recent years, particularly with the massive spike in the salary cap. Thus, to say even 10 years ago that Gordon Hayward wasn’t worthy of a max contract probably would have been accurate.

However, in today’s NBA landscape, and in considering all that Hayward does for this team and how talented he truly is, to say that he’s not currently deserving of a max contract while essentially slandering him the way The Brick did in his ill-informed segment is an absolute travesty.

Perhaps what bothered me the most about his anti-Hayward rant was the fact that he claimed that when Gordon was on the bench he “wanted no part of it” and that “he didn’t want to be in the game” as well as that “he didn’t want to carry that team on his back.” In other words, The Brick insinuated that Gordon Hayward gave up and didn’t want to compete.

For those of us who actually follow Hayward and the Jazz and know what kind of a dedicated competitor he is, The Brick lost all credibility right there. Did Hayward look disappointed? Flustered? More than likely upset with himself? No question. Who wouldn’t be? But to say that he wanted no part of it and didn’t want to compete? That’s a load of something I’m not allowed to say on this site.

Fortunately, Gordon Hayward didn’t and doesn’t need my help to defend himself. His scintillating performance in Game 2 said it all. Unfortunately Utah’s slow start essentially doomed them from the get-go and despite Hayward’s enormous efforts the Jazz weren’t able to close the gap and complete the comeback against the Warriors who just had too many answers. But that doesn’t change the fact that Hayward looked every bit a max player last night.

He finished with a game-high 33 points on 52.4 percent shooting from the field and 37.5 percent from deep. He was 8-of-9 from the foul line and stuffed the stat sheet with five rebounds and four assists.

And in all honesty, the box score doesn’t do his performance justice. The Warriors were absolutely smothering Hayward on defense, yet he found a way to hit tough shot after tough shot to carry his Jazz team back into the game and give them a chance. He absolutely looked like an All-Star and if that kind of performance carries over to Salt Lake City where the Jazz will hopefully overcome their struggles with slow starts, Utah may very well be able to push this Warriors team at home.

So while I have no idea (and to be frank I really don’t care) whether or not JT The Brick was watching last night, I hope he enjoyed eating his words (although listening to his bullish assessment of Hayward after one game, I’m not sure a man like that ever admits to being wrong).

The fact of the matter is that Gordon Hayward is going to be a max player next year and he’s proven all season long and during the playoffs that he is deserving of that. The incredible work that he put in this summer is most certainly paying off and I expect Gordon to only get better moving forward.

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Regardless of how this playoff series ends up and no matter what is spewed in a sensationalized radio broadcast, Hayward has proved his worth and will certainly reap the reward.

No matter where he ends up next season (though of course ideally he stays put in Utah) you can bet that several teams will be willing to extend a max offer his way in spite of his poor Game 1 performance that seems like a complete after thought following his electric play last night.

And he absolutely deserves it in every way.

All stats courtesy of NBA.com