Now, class, before anyone raises a hand and says, “oooh, loose balls and drawing the charge, that’s sooo old school” —
actually, it’s the opinion that hustle is passe that is, itself, out of date.
Lee Jenkins did a nice de-bunk in an important piece for SI.com, “The Warriors’ deadly combo of hustle and flow.”
Superstars shouldn’t get floorburns? That’s sooo…. 2011.
Considering all this, a look at the numbers give reason to hope that Hayward’s heart matters. And that his hustle stats rank him reasonably close to his peers among the top 10 or so wing players in the game, especially when put in context.
A couple notes on the stats themselves….
1. Different statistical categories tend to be led by players from different positions. Most of the league leaders in loose balls and deflections play point guard. Defensively, they’re against a high usage player.
Likewise, league leaders in contested shots tend to be big guys (Lopez, Horford, Porzingas, Green, Gobert) who certainly hustle, but also are there on a lot of pick and rolls, or trying to at least contest shots at the rim, or all of the above.
(We threw Blake Griffin, more of a 4 than a 3/2 like Hayward, into the table just for a bit of a cross-type comparison.)
2. Our “floorburn index” weights for these positional impacts, as well as for minutes played, and a team’s pace.
For instance, Gordon Hayward’s stats suffer a little bit by comparison because of Utah’s relatively low number of possessions and, correspondingly, opponents’ possessions.
By contrast, James Harden benefits in hustle stats from both Houston’s fast pace, and from — let’s call it, Mike D’s “relaxed attitude” about man-on-man tenacity, which allows Harden to go for deflections.
Loose ball? Gordon Hayward, Marcus Smart, and the Celtics know what to do.