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Jazz’s Gordon Hayward dislocates finger

Andrew Snook/Icon Sportswire

Utah Jazz forward Gordon Hayward dislocated a finger on his left hand during practice on Friday, and is expected to miss time with the injury. Hayward is the returning leading scorer on a Jazz team that opens their season on Oct. 25 against the Portland Trail Blazers.

Hayward has become the unquestioned offensive heartbeat of a Utah unit that is loaded with young talent. Inked to a 4-year/$63 million offer sheet by the Charlotte Hornets in July 2014, the Jazz would match and retain the man they took with the ninth overall pick in the 2010 NBA Draft.

Coming off a career-high in scoring in 2015-16 at 19.7 points per game, he would start in all 80 games he played in. Averaging 5.0 rebounds and 3.7 assists, he has become the centerpiece of the Jazz attack.

Taken out of Butler, Hayward was the reigning Horizon League Player of the Year as a sophomore in 2010. He led the Bulldogs to the NCAA Championship Game against the Duke Blue Devils, famously missing a half-court shot at the buzzer that rattled off the backboard to narrowly defeat the Cinderella Butler squad.

Since entering the league in 2010-11, his scoring average has increased each season. He only became a full-time starter in 2013-14, and since then, has averaged at least 34 minutes per game for the season.

With the dislocated finger, Hayward is expected to miss time, meaning that both Rodney Hood and veteran Joe Johnson could see their minutes increase at the small forward spot. The team also has Alec Burks and Joe Ingles under contract.

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