Before Wednesday's preseason game between the Clippers and the Jazz, Doc Rivers had some very very flattering words for Gordon Hayward. That would be the Gordon Hayward that just signed a nice extension with the Jazz.
He not only has a nice bit of change to add to his pocket, but also a little crush he might need to avoid. Doc Rivers admitted he has a bit of a "man crush" on Gordon Hayward (h/t Aaron Falk of The Salt Lake Tribune).
And what is there not to like?
Hayward has that baby face that made him the darling of underdog Butler's run to the National Championship Game in 2010 and a great early career with teh Jazz. He is averaged 14.1 points on 41.5 percent 3-point shooting last year. He has shown himself in the last three years to be a capable player with a good shot and a growing all-around game.
It is easy to like the way Hayward plays. He plays hard and smart. What coach would not like a player like him?
Doc Rivers certainly is not one. And he is largely considered one of the best coaches in the NBA today.
Who else should get our affections this year? Who are the players worth having a "man crush" on this year?
Greg Monroe, Pistons
I am literally in love with Monroe's game. And it kind of ticks me off that he did not get an extension and Andre Drummond and Josh Smith are going to be taking his minutes. It feels like Detroit is going to have to trade him sooner rather than later.
Monroe though is one of the more complete big men in the NBA today, and also one of its most unnoticed.
He averaged 16.0 points and 9.6 rebounds per game last year. He recorded his first career triple double and has some incredible passing skills from the high post. Monroe is a versatile and strong player. If he could get his chance in the spotlight, I am sure the rest of the league would see this.
Unfortunately, it sometimes feels like he is Al Horford and cannot find the spotlight on his own team.
Chandler Parsons, Rockets
Have you ever stared into his bright blue eyes?
Maybe I should not have typed that. But this is definitely a homer pick from me, coming from the Orlando area in Lake Brantley.
Parsons though is one of those rare complete role players that fits perfectly in the system he is in. Throw in Dwight Howard now and there should be even more room for a 38.5 percent 3-point shooting. Parsons averaged 15.5 points per game last year. And he is not just a shooter. He is a high-flyer too and slasher. There could be big things in store for Parsons this year.
Al Jefferson, Bobcats
There is not a lot sexy about Al Jefferson's game. He gets down on the block and just goes to work. He posts you up and hook shots you to death. It is simple, efficient and beautiful.
He also has a face only a mother could love.
It has always been that way with Jefferson. He averaged 17.8 points per game last year with the Jazz and 18.5 points per game in his three seasons in Salt Lake City. Jefferson has just quietly gone about his work throughout his entire career as probably the best offensive post player in the league (really just watch him on offense).
Of course, you do not want to watch too closely on the defensive end. Maybe that is why Jefferson never really got his due.
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