Gordon Hayward on ‘Indy West,’ success with George Hill, and visiting Hinkle

Hayward was named an All-Star this season for the first time.

The Utah Jazz are in town, which means the beloved Gordon Hayward is suiting up in his hometown. Since the Jazz are in the Western Conference, he plays here just once per season.

Hayward, drafted ninth overall in 2010, is having the best season of his career — an All-Star season. He is averaging a career best 21.8 points, 5.5 rebounds, and 3.5 assists per game. He missed seven games due to a fracture of his fourth finger on his non-shooting left hand, but has since thrived as the leader of the Jazz. At 43-27, they are currently slotted fourth in the west, behind Golden State, San Antonio, and Houston.

The Jazz feature Hayward, George Hill, and Trey Lyles — all Indy products — plus Shelvin Mack, who played at Butler.

“It’s been cool,” Hayward said of his team being like ‘Indy West.’ It’s been fun to have so many Indy connections. I think we play well this year together and it’s going to be fun with everybody tonight — kind of like a homecoming for everybody.”

The dynamic of George Hill and Hayward in the backcourt has been successful. They are 26-11 record when those two are both active and play. Hill missed 27 games, the majority due to a sprained left big toe.

“Well he’s just a good basketball player, first and foremost. He makes the game easier for me and for everybody else on the team. He runs our team really well. He just plays with so much poise and control. When he’s aggressive and knocking down shots, too, he adds another weapon for our team and makes us even more difficult to guard. Also defensively, he’s one of the best in the league at his position. I think that’s why he’s out there and healthy, we’ve been good.”

Watch what Hayward had to say below:

The Jazz, who’ve dropped two in a row, held Sunday’s practice at Hinkle Fieldhouse. That’s special, but particularly so for Hayward and Mack.

When Hayward does make his annual visit back home with the Jazz, he said “I always got to get some Donatos pizza, try to see as many friends and family as I can.”

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