First, being the #1 option on offense is completely new for Gordon. Last year, he played off of his teammates and had a very successful year. This year he has to make things happen. This is a huge jump. The best players in the NBA struggle with this adjustment. Take a look at Kevin Durant’s first year in the NBA when he tried to be a go to guy. (Yes, Durant was a rookie and Hayward is a 4th year player, but also no one anticipates Hayward being Durant)
Being a number 1 option is making plays for yourself. Very few players in the NBA are capable of doing achieving this with any success.
This year only 48.9% of Hayward’s field goals have been assisted. The most assists have come from Burks and Jefferson, not a point guard. Last year, 69% of his field goals were assisted and most of them by Mo Williams, Earl Watson and Jamaal Tinsley. No one has been hurt more by the lack of a point guard than Gordon.
Gordon is learning how to manufacture his own shot and he is making huge progress. The toughest shot for a player is the mid range shot from 5 to 15 feet. This shot is taken in traffic, usually off a dribble and more often than not means finding a tough shooting pocket.
Last year, Gordon was 34 of 91 on 5 to 15 foot shots (37%). These shots are unassisted shots. Of all of those field goals only 35% of those were assisted last year.
This year, Hayward is 18 of 42 (43%) with a really strong performance specifically from 10 to 14 feet. Of his 10 to 14 feet shots 92% of those shots have been unassisted. Worth noting as well last year in entire season he attempted 91 shot from 5 to 15 feet and this year in 15 games he has attempted half nearly half of that.
In addition, inside 5 feet Hayward is finishing at 58.5% and 52% of those are assisted. Last year he made 53.5% and 62.3% were assisted. These are much more difficult shots when they are self created and he is making them at a higher rate.
If he has improved in these areas how come he is shooting under 40% on the season. Last year outside 20 feet he shot 149 of 360 (41.3%) and on three’s 101 of 242 (41.7%). The key here is 83% of those shot were assisted.
This year, his 20+ feet shots are falling just 28 of 102 (27%) and his three’s 20 for 65 (31%) and the big difference is he is being forced to create these himself. On these 28 field goals 19 have been assisted or 68% instead of the 83% of a year ago.
As Trey Burk gets more comfortable and others on the team start to create opportunities Hayward will start making his outside shots again and in the meantime he is learning how to make shots inside 15 feet which are far more difficult shots.
These are all puzzle pieces to a complete player. It takes a long time for the puzzle to be completed.