Q&A with Wolves Rookie Lazar Hayward


It’s easy to write off the last 24 games of the Timberwolves season as meaningless march toward the draft lottery. Lazar Hayward however, doesn’t see it that way. The rookie forward has played in only 25 of the Wolves 58 games so far and logged a total of 227 minutes. He is itching to get on the court and has something to prove.

After appearing in 2 games for 14 minutes in January, Hayward has seen more action as of late. The 24-year-old has played in 6 of the last 9 contests, including a 26 minute, 14 point effort at Indiana on February 11. The 30th overall pick in the 2010 draft hopes to build on that performance and make an impression in the season’s final weeks.

I caught up with the former Marquette star following Thursday’s practice at Target Center.

DZ: Today is trade deadline day, how closely do the players follow it? Do you guys check ESPN a lot, see what is going on?

HAYWARD: I don’t know if any of us don’t watch ESPN. I am sure we all watch it a little bit. We like to see what moves other teams are making, we like to keep up and just have great knowledge of who we are playing and our business. We definitely watch, but I don’t know if we keep really, really close tabs on it.

DZ: Do things get a little tenser; are players a little nervous this time of year? I know it’s your first time through it…

HAYWARD: Not for me because there is nothing I can do about that and nothing I can do to control that, but like I said, I’ve always been a student of the game, so I am just trying to make sure I know what is going on, trying to be in the loop. I don’t think anyone gets really nervous.

DZ: About a week ago, the All Star break started, what did you do during that time?

HAYWARD: Got to go home (Buffalo, NY), see my dad and my brother. I checked out all of the All Star festivities and I got to go home and relax a little bit.

DZ: Are you a Bills fan?

HAYWARD: I used to be when they were winning. Jonny (Flynn) is a diehard Bills fan; I am a fan when they are winning (laughs).

DZ: Lately you have been getting a little more playing time, I imagine you like that. How’s that been going for you?

HAYWARD: It’s great, you get to see your hard work paying off in those games and I just try to do a really good job of progressing each game; make sure I am learning and taking bits and pieces of each game and making sure I am improving.

DZ: Earlier when you weren’t getting as much playing time, how hard was it to adjust to that? Obviously, in high school and college you played quite a bit.

HAYWARD: It’s definitely difficult because you are used to playing so many minutes, but when you get here there are a lot of guys who are really, really good. My teammates and coaches did a really good job of keeping me levelheaded, making sure I wasn’t getting down on myself and continuing to remind me that it’s a very long year and I just have to keep working hard and I have to take advantage when my opportunity comes.

DZ: When you are not playing in the games, is it easier to get up for the practices because that is really your chance to get out onto the court?

HAYWARD: When you are not playing, you definitely have to take practice as if it is your game. You have to really, really get better, you have to really, really work hard because you don’t know when you are going to play. You have to make sure you take each and every minute in practice and work very hard.

DZ: Even though you are a rookie, you are still one of the older guys on this team because there are a lot of guys who are 21 or 22. Have there been any veterans who have shown you the ropes, kind of taken you under their wing?

HAYWARD: Oh yeah, Luke (Ridnour) – all of those guys, I think they all do a little bit of everything – kind of share me: Luke, Bassy (Sebastian Telfair), even Michael (Beasley) helps out when he can. Jonny – I grew up with Jonny – he even tries to help me a little bit. They all do a really, really good job.

DZ: One last thing, you were drafted 30th, squeaked into the end of the first round, how much did that mean to you, to get drafted in the first round?

HAYWARD: It was really good. We didn’t know where I was going to go, late first, early second – that was out of my control, I was just hoping I would get picked, I didn’t care where it was, I just wanted to get the opportunity to play in this league.

DZ: You get the guaranteed contract (in the first round)…

HAYWARD: (laughs) That definitely helps.

See more of David Zingler’s interviews with Timberwolves players:

January 21: Darko Milicic
January 11: Luke Ridnour
December 24: Wesley Johnson
December 14: Sebastian Telfair
November 30: Anthony Tolliver

2 Responses to “Q&A with Wolves Rookie Lazar Hayward”

  1. MinnesotaSCORE » Q&A with Wolves Swingman Martell Webster Says:

    […] 24: Lazar Hayward January 21: Darko Milicic January 11: Luke Ridnour December 24: Wesley Johnson December 14: […]

  2. MinnesotaSCORE » Q&A with Wolves Forward Anthony Randolph Says:

    […] 12: Martell Webster February 24: Lazar Hayward January 21: Darko Milicic January 11: Luke Ridnour December 24: Wesley Johnson December 14: […]

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