Lazar Hayward, SF, Marquette:
After seeing Hayward talk at today’s press conference for the Wolves, I immediately understood why the front office fell for him. He’s a mature guy, just like Johnson. He carries himself a lot like a veteran for being a rookie only one-day old in his journey. But I had to dig into Hayward’s case because not much is known of this Marquette senior.
Hayward is tough. For being undersized 3 in this league, though, Hayward will need to prove his toughness to the Wolves before becoming a regular contributor off the bench next season. It’ll be fun to watch Hayward begin his journey of proving his worthiness in Summer League. Hayward lacks pure athleticism but makes up for it with his blue-collar attitude. He’ll do anything and being drafted with the last pick in the first-round when he was projected to go in the second to undrafted gives him the incentive to prove his worthiness of that selection.
There I go with that “prove” word again. But it’s really the key to his success at the NBA level.
His basketball skills aren’t as polished as most first-rounders are but he does possess a nice jump shot. He shot 43% from the field last season and hit 35% of his three-pointers, so he does have range, but I don’t think that will be his game in the NBA. He’ll come into the game to muddy things up; get hard rebounds — he’s a solid rebounder for only being 6-foot-6; he’ll hit shots when he needs to; his long wingspan will be tough to get around for many reserves in the NBA. He does a lot of things right, but nothing is spectacular.
This pick was based on finding a key role player, nothing more. Hayward doesn’t have the talent to become a starter in this league but his nitty-gritty style of play will help mess things up when Rambis inserts him into the game. Kahn really liked this guy from day 1, but it still doesn’t negate the fact that he reached for Hayward. I was surprised the Wolves didn’t use this pick to nab big man Dexter Pittman because they really liked him too. No matter who they took, it was going to be a reach, but if you think about it, Wes Johnson was a reach at 4 especially over Cousins.
A draft full of reaches for role players isn’t anything to celebrate but Kahn got what he wanted in the end: two players that will change the overall environment of this team, especially from an inner-workings perspective.