Saturday, May 29, 2010

NBA Draft Prospects: Lazar Hayward, Marquette

As we get closer to the NBA Draft, we will be reaching out to fellow bloggers for scouting reports on some of the top prospects in the upcoming NBA Draft. Today, we bring you Lazar Hayward, courtesy of Cracked Sidewalks, on twitter @CrackedSidewlks

Click here to find all of our 2010 NBA Draft prospect breakdowns.

Stats: 18.1 ppg, 7.5 rpg, 1.9 spg, 34.9% 3PT

Listed Size: 6'6", 225 lb, 23 years old

About him: Lazar Hayward enjoyed a remarkable career at Marquette, finishing as the school's second all-time leading scorer (1,859 points) and fifth all-time leading rebounder (910 boards). Hayward's four years at Marquette were marked by both selflessness and toughness. Originally recruited as a guard/small forward the Buffalo native was forced to play out of position for his entire career in Milwaukee, and in his first three seasons at MU he was never more than the team's fourth option. Not one to complain, the hard-nosed Hayward developed the skills and versatility to compete successfully in the BIG EAST as a power forward and over time his perimeter skills made him one of the toughest matchups in the country.

Recently at the NBA draft combine Hayward measured out at about 6'5" with a wingpan of nearly 7'1". Hayward's skill and wingspan are the ideal complements to his toughness -- I don't know how else to explain his productivity for the Warriors.

That said, Hayward might be a player without a natural position at the next level. He has the size of a two-guard but the game of a small forward. His enviable shooting range (career 35% shooter from 3-point range) is compromised by a lack of lateral quickness which could make it tough for him to defend shooting guards or small forwards at the next level. Hayward is an able defender in the post however, and led Marquette in steals as a senior by showing quick hands and a knack for keeping his opponent off-balance in the lane.

Offensively Hayward is not the type of player who can put the ball on the floor to get his own shot, nor will he consistently beat his defender off the dribble. Hayward is a terrific spot-up shooter and takes advantage of open looks in transition. If he can demonstrate improved skill off the dribble, perhaps his offensive game will open up even more. Hayward performed well last month at the NABC All Star Game in Indianapolis, highlighted by ridiculous range on his jumpers and a few aggressive moves to the hoop off the dribble.

The one constant for Hayward at Marquette was improvement. Year-to-year his game rounded out with new skills and improved productivity, and I'd expect that to continue as he moves onto the professional ranks where he is required to demonstrate the skills that will help him pay the bills. Realize that for three years he was the fourth option at Marquette, yet he ended up as one of the school's most productive players; he finds ways to contribute. Hayward's motor never slows down on the court and his consistent productivity bears this out.

Comparison: Kyle Korver for shooting range, Chuck Hayes for body type and toughness. Paul Pierce for the "I have a dream" section of this preview (here's hoping Lazar can perfect the Pierce pump fake/step back repertoire).

Outlook: A mature player and leader on the court, Lazar Hayward is an able rebounder and at the very least a terrific spot-up shooter. I've been reading that Hayward could be selected in the second round or go undrafted. For a guy like Hayward, who projects to be a role player, the free agent route might work out best. Having the freedom to hook up with a franchise that fits his skill set could enable him to sneak onto a roster on opening night this fall.


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