The argument for Tyler Haws, by Alex Clark:
The BYU-Utah rivalry is fast slipping out of our reach, which is why this year’s increasingly rare matchup between the Cougars and Utes serves as a special treat to fans starved for the endangered rivalry. Adding extra sizzle to the game are two of the nation’s top senior guards: BYU’s Tyler Haws and the Utes’ Delon Wright.
But who really has the patience to wait until Dec. 10 to find out which team is better? Why not start off the rivalry hype by comparing the state’s two best guards?
I’ll start off by admitting that Utah’s Wright is far and away the better NBA draft prospect. He’s a legit late-first round player that DraftExpress.com currently has going 30th overall in its early 2015 NBA mock draft. Wright beats out Haws, if you want to play the comparison game purely by future NBA potential. However, if you compare the two careers from the NCAA level, Haws is clearly the better guard. And it’s not even close.
Haws has made his name by scoring. Lots and lots of scoring. Sports Illustrated recently billed him as the nation’s number-one scorer entering the 2014–2015 season. He will eventually dethrone Jimmer Freddette as BYU’s all-time leading scorer if he continues at his usual rate of 23.2 ppg this season, a pace at which he’ll also surpass Utah all-time leading scorer Keith Van Horn by mid-February. He’s a threat to put up the kind of numbers you’re only used to seeing when playing NBA Live’s “career mode,” like when he went off to average an amazing 34 ppg Jan. 23 to Feb. 6 of last year.
Consistency is the reason Haws will go down as one of BYU’s greatest-ever players. He’s been an impact player since day one, averaging 11.3 points as a freshman in 2009–2010. His scoring numbers jumped to 21.7 ppg after he returned from his mission in 2012 and followed that up by the 23.2 ppg, 3.8 rpg 1.5 apg line he put up on his way to being named the 2013–2014 West Coast Conference Player of the Year.
I won’t argue that Wright has been anything less than an immense addition to a talented Utah team. The junior transfer from City College of San Francisco proved he could fill up a stat sheet when he averaged 15.5 points, 6.8 rebounds, 5.3 assists, 2.5 steals and 1.3 blocks in his first season as a Ute. Wright was very much the spark instrumental in turning around Utah’s 15-18 in 2012–2013 record into a 21-win team the following year.
Though Wright does a lot of solid things overall for the Utes, Haws’ scoring is a much more valuable commodity to his team. He has proven the ability to put up 20-plus points night-in and night-out against defenses with entire game plan centered on shutting him down. Points are ultimately the deciding factor in winning and losing, and the Cougars’ 47 wins over the last two seasons are in large part because of Haws, who alone accounted for more than a quarter of BYU’s points scored during that span.
Haws and Wright are both extremely talented players worthy of all the accolades and national attention they’ve been receiving. It’ll be exciting to see how Wright’s draft stock rises playing in his second year as a Ute while Haws’ begins toppling scoring records in his fourth year in coach Dave Rose’s system. The best part will be getting to see the two go against each other in the Marriott Center. Is it Dec. 10 yet?
The argument for Delon Wright, by Griffin Adams of University of Utah’s student newspaper, the Daily Utah Chronicle:
Let me preface my argument by saying I recognize the talent the Cougars have in Provo with Tyler Haws. He was a fantastic player last season, and I’m sure he will only improve in 2014.
However, when comparing Haws with Utah’s Delon Wright, it’s not even close — Wright is a much better and more complete basketball player than Haws.
First, I’ll address the elephant in the room by pointing out the obvious — Wright can’t shoot anywhere outside of the paint. The point guard shot a dismal 22 percent from 3-point range in 2013 for the Runnin’ Utes, a number that most college defenses won’t respect.
On the flip side, Haws is an excellent shooter. The shooting guard shot more than 40 percent from deep last season and has made some Jimmer-esque shots in his reign at the Marriott Center.
But that’s it. That is the only advantage Haws has over his Utah counterpart. Wright is more athletic, a better passer, a better defender and just has the uncanny ability to finish pretty much any layup.
Looking back at Wright’s shooting statistics, there’s no excuse for him shooting so poorly from behind the arc last season, but the guy still finished with a field goal percentage just over 56 percent. This means the California native was nothing short of spectacular inside the arc, especially finishing at the rim.
While we are crunching the numbers, I’m going to throw out a few more for good measure — 15.5 points, 6.8 rebounds, 5.3 assists, 2.5 steals and 1.3 blocks. Those are the per-game numbers Wright registered last season. According to Mark Titus, of the popular blog Grantland.com, Wright was the only player in the country last year to average at least 15 points, five rebounds, five assists, two steals and one block. I’m usually not a fan of these types of statistics, but that is pretty impressive.
Wright is a stat-sheet stuffer. He does a little bit of everything out there on the floor, and he has been working on his only negative, outside shooting. Since the conclusion of last season, Wright has been chucking shots in the gym to improve his jump shot. I don’t think he will come into this season shooting at a blistering rate from 3-point range, but with Wright’s work ethic, I believe he can improve upon his 22 percent clip and become a shooter whom defenders respect.
Now, my final point. It’s the most cliché argument between Utah and BYU fans, but in this case, it’s especially right — the competition Utah and Wright have to go against is way better than what Haws and the Cougars see. I could point out the fact the Pac-12 contains some of the best programs in the country, but let me just list a few players whom Wright had to go against last season: Zach LaVine, Jordan Adams, Kyle Anderson and Nick Johnson. All of those guys are now in the NBA, and I haven’t even mentioned players like C.J. Wilcox and Jahii Carson, who are definitely better than any player Haws might see all season.
I’m not bashing Haws — he’s an excellent player and an above-average shooter. However, after breaking it down, Wright is not only the better college basketball player but the better pro prospect as well.