Gordon Hayward's been in the starting lineup, out of the first unit and back in the initial rotation this season, and the Jazz still have 13 games to go.

The Utah small forward's latest promotion occurred March 20, when Josh Howard was lost to knee surgery. But after bouncing all over the place for the initial three months of the 2011-12 campaign, Hayward has finally been able to lock in.

In turn, he's played his best ball since joining the Jazz. The No. 9 overall pick of the 2010 NBA Draft entered a game Saturday against the Los Angeles Clippers averaging 15.8 points, 5.6 rebounds, 4.2 assists, 1.6 blocks and 1 steal during his past five contests. Hayward's defense had been stronger than ever, while his ballhandling was often superb.

And one of the primary ideas behind Utah coach Tyrone Corbin's March 5 decision to promote Howard and send Hayward to the bench — putting the ball in the latter's hands and allowing him to create off the dribble — had quietly been tossed aside.

Not because Corbin was wrong — he was dead on. But with Howard out of action and Hayward constantly attacking as soon as he takes the court, the Jazz's Al Jefferson, Paul Millsap and Devin Harris have had no choice but to feed the 22-year-old kid who keeps growing.