In year three of a four-year contract with the Boston Celtics, Gordon Hayward is in position to emerge for a Utah-esque season with a clean slate of a Boston Celtics team in 2019-2020.
Words cannot adequately describe nor live up to the unfortunate two seasons that have been Gordon Hayward’s stint thus far as a member of the Boston Celtics. To fall victim to one of the utmost gruesome injuries ever viewed on television in modern era basketball, wasn’t something that could ever be suspected.
Kicking off the 2018-19 season was an expectedly awkward fit for Gordon Hayward, the Celtics, and the Brad Stevens system.
For one, Stevens and Hayward, both with strong ties from their time at Butler University, saw a particularly loaded core of wings. Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum, Marcus Morris, and of course, Gordon Hayward. Too mesh in following a career-threatening injury on a team full of minute-hungry youth and an organization in which you’re not even the number one was something extremely odd and difficult for Hayward considering his previous tenure in Utah.
To find your place in a rotation filled with a crew of unproven’s who mistakenly over-estimated their abilities to follow a playoff hot-streak with a follow up to dismiss any fluke notions.
To be fair, a team featuring Terry Rozier as the starting point guard coming just a game shy of eliminating LeBron James’ Cleveland Cavaliers and making an out-of-nowhere NBA Finals appearance is overwhelmingly impressive for a team having endured what the 2017-18 Celtics did. However, that is if you manage to get the job done. Coming up short is dismissive and not nearly as notable.
On Wednesday night the Boston Celtics will open up a completely different team, still in search of identity. There’s a new point guard to lead the way in Kemba Walker. An open slot for emergence from the area most questionable and concerning in Boston’s lineup with Enes Kanter, Robert Williams, and Daniel Theis being the big’s of choice for Brad Stevens. Then there’s the first year’s in Romeo Langford (Indiana), Grant Williams (Tennessee), and Carsen Edwards (Purdue).
Without Kyrie Irving and Al Horford, Marcus Morris, and even Terry Rozier in the mix, Gordon Hayward will certainly see the window open for an increase in touches and offensive contributions each night. Last season Hayward averaged 8.8 field goal attempts per game, the lowest in his career to date since the 2011-12 season for Utah. That was just Haywards’s second season in the NBA.
When breaking down the shot attempt distribution of the top nine most played Celtics with at least 14+ starts last season, the numbers show just how minor of a role Hayward was in the rotation, accounting for just 9.5% of these shots.
Granted, the injury and roster conflicts have to be revisited and taken into great consideration as opposed to making a bold assessment based solely on the numbers alone. Hayward was never in great position to flourish or comfortably find his place last season.
This begs the question…
What Should We Expect From 2019-20 Gordon Hayward?
Entering now his third season as a member of the Boston Celtics, and his eighth in the NBA, now 29-year-old Gordon Hayward is among the biggest question marks next season, in place with an opportunity to re-write everyone’s stance regarding him in a Celtics uniform.
When considering a great deal of change in which we’ve witnessed through the span of just a single off-season with this Boston Celtics team, in combination for a great deal of emphasis Hayward’s applied to his off-season regimen, raising the bar for Gordon Hayward is far from unrealistic.
Last season in 72 games played (18 starts), and an average of 25.9 minutes per game, Hayward averaged 11.5 points with 4.5 rebounds and 3.4 assists.
When taking into consideration the emphasis he’s applied on rejuvenating and recovering his body to 100 percent form, along with the snippet we witnessed from Hayward in the preseason, the bar should certainly rise.
When watching Hayward in pre-season action you’ll instantly notice a difference, for the better, in his offensive approach on the floor. He played with more confidence and wasn’t nearly as timid in his execution whether it was driving right off a feed or pulling the trigger from the outside. He was increasingly more aggressive in making plays happen whether it was for him finding a basket or for a teammate, things are looking good for season three Gordon Hayward.
On the cusp of year three of a four-year max contract in Boston, Hayward should certainly put together a season around 15+ points, with roughly the same amount of rebounds (4.5) and assists (3.4) as last season. The big factor that will get the wheels truly in motion would be an increase in field-goal attempts per game. If Hayward can maintain the confidence to find himself the looks to the basket off the dribble we saw in a number of games last season against Minnesota, Golden State, and this past pre-season, the rest will come naturally in the stat book.
Day one of Hayward’s road to natural form kicks off in Philadelphia tomorrow night at 7:30 p.m. eastern time.
In the meantime, let’s all worry about Brad Stevens and his approach to contesting former Joel Embiid and his former kryptonite, now partner in crime, Al Horford.