OKC Thunder 2011-2012 Final Player Grades and Season Profile: Lazar Hayward

Will the Lazer rise to new heights next season?

Name: Lazar Hayward

Nickname: "Laser Tag," "Zar-Zar Binks"

Player History:

Lazar Hayward was an older player coming out of college, having spent two years at Notre Dame Prep School and four years at Marquette. Nevertheless, after a successful career as a scoring and rebounding forward at Marquette, he was selected with the last pick of the first round in 2010 by the Washington Wizards. He was shortly traded to the Timberwolves, where he played spot minutes in an ever-fluctuating rotation. After the season, he was traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder for two second round picks and Robert Vaden.

Pre-Season Expectations:

I wasn't expecting too much from Hayward heading into the season. I knew he was a good scorer and hadn't really had too much time in the NBA, so I was assuming he'd be insurance for Daequan Cook, or maybe someone who could see a few minutes here or there to provide a scoring boost for our sometimes stagnant offense.

Regular Season Grade: D+

Honestly, I wasn't too impressed with what I saw of him this season. He did get occasional important minutes, but he never really managed to impress. We know he's not a ballhandler, since he spent most of his time hovering around the perimeter or driving to the hoop. His rebounding is below-average for someone his size. And his defense didn't exactly kill us, but it's not as good as most guys on the roster.

But the worst part was his shooting. He was alright at shooting threes from the corner, but he'd often fire up long threes from beyond the top of the arc during garbage time, resulting in an ugly miss. When he penetrates, he rarely has enough steam to get to the hoop, instead pulling up for a bad shot too quickly in mid-range. At the end of the day, his shooting percentages are in the 30s, and he only got to the line 6 or 7 times. If he could work on getting to the rack or getting in position for a clear mid-range shot, he might be a lot more useful next season.

Below: Post-Season Grade, Most Memorable Moment, Expectations For Next Season!

Post-Season Grade: Incomplete

Fun Fact: Lazar Hayward scored in two games this post-season: A mid-range pullup in the first win to come against the Spurs, and a layup in the last game we lost to Miami. In that last game, he also scored the last Thunder points of the season. Also, he, along with Royal Ivey, were the only Thunder players to wear the same shoes, home and away, with the exact same colorways. He's also worn two accessories on his head: a head band and a mask.

Most Memorable Game/Moment:

Since Lazar never really played in crunch time, he doesn't have a lot of memorable moments. But my favorite was probably during the March 21st game against the Clippers. We had a lot of trouble with the Clips last season, but we did win one game with a whole lot of offensive power. Hayward was undoubtedly the spark plug for a big late second quarter run in that game, hitting back to back corner threes and stretching the lead from three to seven. We would end the quarter up by 16.

Future Expectations:

His contract is good through next season, with a team option in 2013-2014 and a player option in 2014-2015. With the Thunder coming under the cap crunch during next off-season, Hayward could be seen as a cheap option at backup shooting guard, or he could be squeezed out of the roster as the Thunder continue to bring in more draft picks and the like.

***

Player Grades:

A: Far exceeded expectations
B: Exceeded expectations
C: Met expectations
D: Did not meet expectations
F: Fell far short of expectations

Other Player Grades:

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