October 17, 2017 — Less than six minutes into the Boston Celtics regular-season opener against the Cleveland Cavaliers — Celtics fans watched in horror as star free agent Gordon Hayward collapsed under his own weight attempting an alley-oop. Fracturing his tibia and dislocating his ankle, Gordon missed the remainder of the 2017-18 season.
Returning for the 2018-19 season, Hayward showed flashes of brilliance late in the season, but his campaign was widely maligned by fans and pundits — in consideration of his playtime (25.9 mpg) and his salary ($32.7 million).
In the most recent entry in Gordon Hayward’s blog, the former All-Star discussed a myriad of topics in anticipation of the 2019-20 season — ranging from the Celtics’ acquisition of Kemba Walker and his former teammate Enes Kanter to highlighting the Celtics acquisition of french big-man, Vincent Poirier. But, the major takeaway from Hayward’s post was a promise directed towards Celtics fans, unsure of where he stands in the Celtics impending season:
“On the court, I think that’s something that Coach Stevens was cautious about with me last year. He wanted to ease me into everything and make sure that I was healthy. Now, the reins are off.
I’m ready to be the player I came here to be.
That’s my focus. That and raising a banner at the Garden.”
On a roster which boasts six rookies and zero champions, Gordon Hayward is the Celtics most experienced player. While adding Kemba Walker was paramount — the loss of Kyrie Irving, Marcus Morris, and Al Horford will surely be felt.
Imagine though, if Hayward performed in a similar fashion to his final year in Utah, where he played serviceable defense and averaged nearly 22 points per contest.
Such a campaign from the Celtics’ most experienced figure would be paramount, and in conjunction with Kemba Walker could help establish a dichotomy for the younger players to follow — reminiscent of the short-lived Isaiah Thomas-Al Horford duo.
Better yet, maybe a Hayward-Walker duo could lead this Celtics roster to even greater heights than the pairing of Thomas and Horford.