A day might come this season when Gordon Hayward resembles the player he was before his gruesome ankle injury. And at that time, he might be a huge asset for the Boston Celtics.
But right now, it’s hard to look at the 28-year-old forward as anything other than a liability.
Hayward is averaging just 9.9 points, 5.2 rebounds and 2.8 assists through 12 games this season. Those numbers unsurprisingly are way down from his last full NBA season, when he averaged 21.9 points, 5.4 rebounds and 3.5 assists for the Utah Jazz.
But forget the numbers: Hayward clearly has a long way to go, and the way the Celtics are forcing him into the offense has thrown off the entire operation. Young players who blossomed in the playoffs last season — Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and Terry Rozier — now look uncomfortable and unsure of what their current role is.
ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith is among those who have noticed Boston’s problematic shoehorning of Hayward. The “First Take” co-host talked Hayward and the Celtics during Tuesday morning’s episode.
So, is Hayward really the Celtics’ “biggest problem?”
That might be a little harsh if you ask us. Hayward certainly is an issue, but he’s just one of many symptoms in what’s been a sickening beginning to the season for the Celtics — especially Marcus Smart.
Still, it’s hard to believe Hayward and the Celtics will stay down for too long. At the end of the day, this remains perhaps the second-most talented basketball roster on planet Earth.
In the meantime, the Celtics and their fans will just have to be patient.
Thumbnail photo via Tom Szczerbowski/USA TODAY Sports Images