All things considered, the Boston Celtics had much bigger problems to worry about than Gordon Hayward last year. However, Hayward was something of a microcosm for the Celtics in 2018-19 — at his best, he looked like the All-Star who received a max deal from the team in free agency, but his bad days were oftentimes a struggle to overcome.
Putting all of the team’s struggles on whether or not Hayward played well is obviously not quite correct, nor is it particularly fair, as Hayward spent a whole lot of time last offseason rehabbing from the leg injury that ended his first year in Boston after five minutes. It prevented him from getting completely folded into the squad, and it meant that getting the rust that might have developed during his rehab had to come off during the season.
Entering the 2019-20 campaign, Hayward is in a different position, as he can now focus on basketball without worrying about his ankle. As he told John Karalis of MassLive, this has been huge for his confidence, as he’s gotten to put in the work that he just could not do last year.
“Reps is what gives you confidence, so being able to do things over and over and over and not worry about how my ankle’s feeling, or having to be cautious with it, has been really good, especially for my confidence,” Hayward said. “I think last year was a lot of hoping and not really knowing what was going to happen just because I didn’t have the reps… going into a summer training as hard as I want to, it’s a lot better for my confidence this year and expectations-wise as well.”
Hayward largely came off the bench last season, and thanks to the amount of turnover in Boston this offseason, there’s very much an opportunity for him to establish himself as the All-Star he’s capable of being. At the very least, he seems like he’s in a place where he’s confident he can make that jump.