NBA

Biggest X-factors for each NBA title contender

Utah Jazz: Gordon Hayward

Ever so quietly, Hayward has put up superstar numbers in Utah this season. He’s averaging 23.3 points, 5.8 rebounds and 3.6 assists per 36 while putting up a 23.1 PER and +7.6 net rating.

Without any playoff experience, its tough to say how Hayward, Gobert, Rodney Hood or head coach Quin Snyder will respond to the higher level of competition exhibited in the postseason. But we do know Hayward will have the ball in his hands come crunch time.

He leads the team in usage rate, PER and scoring. The Jazz signed him to a $62 million deal a few years ago, which was viewed skeptically at the time, and will face a franchise-altering decision as to whether or not they max him out this summer should Hayward decline a player option.

Whether he proves to be a star during the postseason will have a great impact, not just on Utah’s chances of advancing but on that decision.

About the author

Ethan Sears

Ethan Sears is the publisher of sports web site EthanSears.com and will graduate in 2017 from Rye High School in Westchester County, New York. He has loved sports from an early age and intends to have a long career in journalism.

Ethan interned at the New York Post in the summers of 2015 and 2016. He also writes for Giants Wire, USA Today's New York Giants blog. In addition to writing and editing his own website, Ethan is the sports editor for his school paper, Garnet and Black. You can follow him on Twitter @ethan_sears.