This season was a very different season for Gordon Hayward. Last year he played off the action of Jefferson and Millsap. This year he created the action. Comparing the shot charts of the last two seasons shows this difference.
LAST YEAR THIS YEAR
The right wing action is the most interesting. Last year a great deal of that came off the left block play of Al Jefferson. This year he is creating for himself in those areas.
He has become better in the areas close to the basket. If you narrow it more from what you can see here, he improved from 53% to 57% in the restricted area this year.
Looking at these charts, Gordon has improved in the areas around the basket (which are most difficult) but he lost the good looks from other players’ action. If he gets that back with a better roster around him, he will be a vastly improved player.
Bring back the 40% right-side 3-point shooting with the improvement around the paint and you have a very solid and efficient offensive player.
One player’s season has been classified as a breakout to stardom. He was an All-Star. At times he has been talked about as the next superstar. At times he has been talked about as the third-best player in the NBA. This player also plays with two other All-Stars. He has a max contract.
The other player has had a disappointing season. He has been classified as overwhelmed and playing outside of his role. Not good enough to handle his role. A national commentator and former successful head coach said he was no better than the fourth or fifth option and is a mid-level exception player.
How big is the difference, really?
Let’s look at each of these players since Jan. 1.
Here is the budding superstar:
Here is the one being called a disappointment:
Wow. A better FG% and 3-point FG%. Their combined assists and rebounds are the same. They’re nearly equal in steals and turnovers. The disappointment is averaging more blocks. The only reason the budding star scores more is that he shoots more.
It’s worth noting that the disappointment’s team has been better offensively since Jan. 1 than the budding star’s team.
Interestingly, he may be going against analytics to get himself going. Gordon has increased his amount of mid-range 2s and increased his percentage of both his 2s and his 3s by 8%. As much as we talk analytics with tired legs, if the three is not falling, at some point you have to move to the shots you can make and that builds your confidence and the rest of your game will follow.
The other area of significant improvement is the amount of shots in the restricted area and the percentage of makes.