I think. I proved myself on defense, staying in front of guys. … I think there are some questions. Guys want to see that out of me. My workouts so far, I feel like I’ve proven that. – Tyler Haws
SALT LAKE CITY — Phoenix. Dallas. Salt Lake City. Los Angeles. Oakland. Memphis. Brooklyn.
Nah. Welcome to the Tyler Haws Tour, 2015.
“This,” Haws said, “is a crazy process.”
On Monday, the former BYU star made his NBA pre-draft workout stop in his home state, where the craziness continued with a large, Jimmer-like media ensemble and a tryout with the Jazz.
Haws, an honorable mention All-American last season, liked how he performed Monday while spending a few hours trying to convince the Jazz that he is more than just a mid-range shooting specialist.
“I’m trying to prove that I can score from the 3-point line,” said Haws, a 37.9-percent shooter from beyond the arc in college. “My game’s kind of the mid-range game. But I’m a scorer and I believe I can help any team score, and I’m trying to prove that.”
He has made believers out of the Jazz, who had Haws, Bosnian forward Nedim Buza, Brazil forward Lucas Dias Silva, Oklahoma forward TaShawn Thomas, Ohio State forward Sam Thompson and UC Santa Barbara center Alan Williams in the gym on Monday.
“I have no problems or concerns that he can shoot the NBA three,” Jazz vice president of player personnel Walt Perrin said of Haws. “He shot a few (threes) at BYU. On our level, he should be able to do it, no problems.”
Of course, shooting threes isn’t the only criteria for earning a roster spot next to Gordon Hayward and Derrick Favors.
Perrin initially joked off a question about the age of Haws, the former Lone Peak High standout who not only played all four years in college but also served a two-year LDS mission in the Philippines.
“Is he 24? It shows what I think about age,” Perrin said, smiling. “If a guy can play, he can play.”
But Perrin admitted that NBA teams might be concerned about how old Haws is compared to other draft hopefuls, although the Jazz did show they were willing to give 27-year-olds Joe Ingles and Elijah Millsap chances this past season.
There are a few other concerns NBA teams might have about giving BYU’s all-time leading scorer an opportunity, Perrin added.
“Some teams will look at size. He’s not very big for a two guard, not very long for a two guard,” Perrin said of Haws, who’s listed at 6-foot-5 and 195 pounds.
Perrin did add a proverbial “but,” which could give Haws and his supporters some hope.
“But everybody’s looking for shooting,” he continued. “If teams look at Tyler and think he can play the two, that he can guard the two, then he’ll get an opportunity.”
Which brings us to the biggest concern NBA front offices, including Utah’s, have about Haws in the world’s elite basketball league.
Can Haws’ offensive skills offset potential defensive weaknesses at the NBA level?
“That’s to be seen,” Perrin said. “It depends on what Tyler has right in his heart in terms of desire, dedication, determination, basketball IQ (and) whether or not he would be a good defender.”
Haws’ straight-ahead speed is good, as he showed this past weekend while breaking a Suns workout sprinting record.
It’s the lateral quickness — the ability to stay in front of a top-notch athlete as a defender — that raises a red flag.
Haws has been working on that aspect, including building body strength, in an effort to persuade NBA bosses that he wouldn’t be a defensive liability in spite of that reputation.
“I think,” he said, “I proved myself on defense, staying in front of guys. … I think there are some questions. Guys want to see that out of me. My workouts so far, I feel like I’ve proven that.”
Haws, an All-WCC first-teamer his sophomore, junior and senior seasons, said he doesn’t have a backup plan in place yet in case an NBA team doesn’t call his name in the draft or pick him up in free agency.
“I’m trying to just keep all of my options open,” he said. “Obviously, the main goal is to play in the NBA. I feel like I can play there. I feel like my game fits well and I can be of value to some team.”
His next stop will be in Los Angeles with the Lakers on Wednesday, and then he’s off to make a case for himself with the Warriors, Grizzlies and Nets.
During this grind of a process, Haws has been leaning on his family, particularly his dad, former BYU and international pro player Marty Haws, as well as former Cougar assistant Mark Pope (now at UVU) and his college strength coach, Bob Medina, who worked in the NBA for years.
Although he’s currently in a touring whirlwind, Haws is savoring this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
“(You) learn something new every day from coaches and guys I’m competing against,” he said. “It’s been a fun experience.”
Haws expressed his appreciation to the local NBA team for allowing him to audition for Dennis Lindsey, Quin Snyder and crew. He called the Jazz “a great organization, great guys.”
The personal highlight for Haws so far, however, was meeting Dirk Nowitzki during his Dallas workout.
“It was great,” Haws said. “He was a nice guy. Huge. Really big.”
Haws even mustered up the courage to ask the 7-foot German for a quick photo, which his dad put on Twitter this past weekend. Haws said he knows he “can’t be too starstruck,” but getting a moment and a picture with Nowitzki was irresistible.
“A lot of the guys that were at the workout didn’t want to be that guy and take a picture with him,” Haws said. “He’s one of the greatest players ever. He was one of my favorite players growing up, so I thought it would be cool.”
Coincidentally, Ohio State's Thompson credited Haws’ diverse offensive arsenal, which happens to include a patented Nowitzki fade-away move.
“(Haws) has a kind of unique game. He can score in a lot of ways, the wrong–legged runners, fading away off of one leg, stuff like that,” Thompson said. “He’s a good player. He did well today. He competed hard. He played hard. He did his thing.”
Doing his thing is exactly what Haws hopes to get a chance to do in the NBA.
“It’s just the next thing,” Haws said. “I feel like I had a great college career, but I feel like I’m ready for this next step.”