Following his performance in Game 3 of the playoff series between the Utah Jazz and Los Angeles Clippers, it didn’t seem like anything could stop Utah small forward Gordon Hayward. His career-high 40 point-performance wasn’t enough to get the win but it sent a message that the former Butler Bulldog was for real and wasn’t going to lay down. In fact, his 21 first-quarter points was a franchise playoff record.

Alas, it turned out that Hayward did find an opponent who could stop him in Game 4: food poisoning.

Whether he’s back to 100 percent or not for pivotal Game 5, Hayward’s performance was a reminder to the rest of the league that the seven-year veteran has made good on being the Jazz’s No. 1 draft pick in 2010. He’s coming off a regular season in which he averaged career-bests scoring (21.9 PPG), rebounds (5.4 RPG), and FT percentage (84 percent) and was also named an NBA All-Star for the first time.

Perhaps you wouldn’t be surprised to find out that a lot of people never expected any of this to happen. Instead, as the 2010 NBA Draft got underway, they were too busy comparing him to other doomed white guys to notice his possibilities.

And when people weren’t comparing him to other white guys, they were just flat-out saying which other guys the Jazz should have drafted instead because they’ll be better.

Like Hayward, Babbitt has played seven seasons in the NBA, but is now on his third team and averaging 4.7 PPG over the course of his career.

Wes Johnson has been a serviceable role player over his seven-year career but there’s no debate who has been better or more valuable.

Many other pundits didn’t need to compare Hayward to anyone else. They just knew in their heart of hearts that he was gonna stink.

Finally, there were the people who got specific enough to figure out if and when Hayward would eventually get playing time for the Jazz, if he ever would at all.

Hayward has appeared in 521 games for the Jazz in his career. He has started in 408 of them.

So close. Hayward played in 72 games in his rookie season, starting 17 of them.

To be fair, Hayward does wear suits when he’s not playing basketball these days. In his fourth season with the Jazz, however, he started every single game and has started every game he’s played in for Utah since (311 and counting).

About Sean Keeley

Sean Keeley is the creator of the Syracuse blog Troy Nunes Is An Absolute Magician and author of 'How To Grow An Orange: The Right Way to Brainwash Your Child Into Rooting for Syracuse.' He has also written non-Syracuse-related things for SB Nation, Curbed, and many other outlets. He currently lives in Seattle. Send tips/comments/complaints to sean@thecomeback.com.