The Boston Celtics entered the 2018-19 NBA season as the top favorite NBA team to fully dominate the Eastern Conference. Even after losing Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward to injuries, the Celtics managed to reach the Eastern Conference Finals last season where they forced a Game 7 against LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers. With the return of Irving and Hayward on their roster, most people believed that the Celtics could beat any powerhouse teams in a best-of-seven series, even the reigning NBA champions Golden State Warriors.
However, bringing Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward back to the fold without affecting the effectiveness of their young players proved to be a tough challenge for Celtics Head Coach Brad Stevens. Luckily, after struggling earlier in the 2018-19 NBA season, the Celtics managed to bounce back and are currently sitting in the No. 5 spot in the Eastern Conference with a 30-19 record. The Celtics are definitely aware that they are still far from reaching their full potential.
Kyrie Irving may already have returned to his All-Star form, but Gordon Hayward continues to be a huge disappointment in Boston. The 28-year-old small forward hasn’t been his usual self since returning from the grave injury he acquired last season and as of now, he’s only averaging 10.8 points, 4.6 rebounds, 3.4 assists, and 1.4 steals on 42.0 percent shooting from the field and 31.7 percent shooting from beyond the arc.
— CelticsBlog (@celticsblog) January 27, 2019
In the recent game between the Celtics and the Warriors, which was dubbed as the “NBA Finals 2019 Preview,” Gordon Hayward was almost non-existent, only finishing with two points on 0-of-5 shooting. Hayward’s performance was bad enough for one Warriors player to tell Jeff Goodman of Stadium that he’s a “liability” for the Celtics.
“I talked to a Warriors player who told me, ‘listen, Gordon Hayward is not Gordon Hayward right now,'” said Goodman on the Garden Report (courtesy of SB Nation’s Celtics Blog). “‘He’s hurting them.’ the anonymous player continued. ‘He’s a liability on both ends of the court.'”
Some people may think that the unnamed Warriors player is being harsh on Gordon Hayward, but the recent statistics can support his claim. According to Uproxx, the Celtics have a higher net rating when Hayward is sitting on the bench.
“According to the NBA.com stats site, the Celtics have a net rating of +1.4 when Hayward is on the floor. When he’s off the floor though this has increased to a +11.4. That’s a full 10 points per 100 possessions better when Hayward is on the bench.”
If Gordon Hayward fails to show a massive improvement with his performance by the end of the season, there is a strong possibility that the Celtics will consider making him available on the trade market. However, as Bleacher Report noted, Hayward’s current contract could serve as a “major roadblock” with the Celtics’ plan to get rid of him next summer.