Gordon Hayward is one of the more interesting second-tier free agents on the market, one of only five NBA players to average more than 16 points (16.2), five assists (5.2) and five rebounds (5.1) last season.
The Charlotte Hornets think so, too, as they have offered him a four-year deal at the maximum of $63 million, to which Hayward has agreed. But the Utah Jazz reportedly will match Charlotte’s offer for the restricted free agent.
Jazz will match Gordon Hayward’s $63M sheet, but wouldn’t be a surprise to see them take full 3 days to notify Hornets, sources tell Yahoo.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) July 10, 2014
But should the Jazz do that? After all, Hayward does a few things well, but nothing extraordinary.
He can score, but his effective field goal percentage was just 45.4 percent last season.
Per Synergy Sports, he scored 0.88 of a point per possession in 2013-14, good for 281st in the league. He was at his best handing off the ball, which netted the Jazz 1.01 points per possession.
He can grab rebounds, but won just 23.3 percent of contested rebounds (in other words, rebounds with an opponent within 3.5 feet). And his overall defense isn’t great — opposing teams scored 111.9 points per 100 possessions when he was on the court for Utah last season and 109.5 when he was off. Plus, he doesn’t do much to reduce the effectiveness of field goals taken by opposing teams.
Below is his adjusted defensive impact graph during the regular season. Warm colors (red and orange) indicate that offensive players shoot better when Hayward was on the court. Blue colors indicate the opposite, and as you can see, there are spots in the paint and in the corner where the opposing team has the advantage.
Opposing players posting up on Hayward shot 54.2 percent, and 43.4 percent when they used a pick-and-roll against him.
Here is how Hayward stacks up to the test of the first 10 selections in the 2010 NBA draft. Of those, Paul George, John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins and Derrick Favors are making the amount of money being thrown around for Hayward, but all have accumulated more win shares since draft day.
FiveThirtyEight has a quick and dirty rule for when to offer a max contract:
Has your guy made an All-NBA team, or would it have been entirely reasonable for him to do so? Then offer him the max extension. If not, then don’t.
If it’s a close call, you might consider the player’s age, his injury history, his advanced defensive metrics, his leadership abilities, positional scarcity, your cap flexibility or whatever else pleases you.
It doesn’t look like a close call at all.