Gordon Hayward is underrated.
Yes, even though he was a top 10 draft pick, an all-star, and just signed a 4 year contract for $128 million, he is still underrated.
In my opinion he is in the same tier as Paul George, Jimmy Butler, and Carmelo Anthony. These three players have been in trade rumors for several seasons, with many experts and fans claiming that the Boston Celtics should pursue them. As of right now, Boston has not traded for any one of these guys, and that’s okay. Butler and George were both traded during the 2017 offseason. Both trades were controversial, and both trades sent a star player from the East to the West.
As we enter the 2017-18 season, George, Butler, and Hayward are all in the primes of their careers, while Carmelo is at the end of his prime and slowly declining. None of them have won a championship, and all of them would like to change that.
The Boston Celtics franchise is historic and will always face high expectations. The goal is to get into the finals and compete for the title. Last season the Celtics made it all the way to the Eastern Conference Finals where they faced LeBron James and the Cavaliers. It is no mystery that the Cavs dominated the Celtics and were clearly the better team. So naturally the Celtics need to make adjustments, and improve their team to increase their chances of making the finals. This has resulted in countless rumors surrounding who the Celtics would trade for…
Jimmy Butler! He’s on the trade block!
Paul George! He wants out!
Carmelo Anthony! The Knicks are dysfunctional, he’s as good as gone!
The thing is, why would The Celtics risk trading players and draft picks to acquire any of these guys, when they could sign Gordon Hayward in free agency without damaging their core or giving away their future?
Hayward is just as good as these other guys.
Take a look at the basic stats from the 2016-17 season.
The numbers are about even across the board. Each player had their own unique role on their particular team. Keep in mind that Hayward lead his team to a 51 win season, while George’s team won 42 games, Butler’s won 41, and Anthony’s only won 31.
Now take a look at offensive percentages from the 2016-17 season.
|Player||2P FG%||3P FG%||FG%|
While these numbers are all pretty close, Hayward did average the best percentages out of anyone. He will easily be able to duplicate these numbers next season, and I believe he’ll be able to improve them because he was able to put up these numbers while being limited on his old team, which I will talk about more later.
Now take a look at some percentages when these players are playing defense.
Again, the numbers are all close, but Hayward is forcing his opponents to shoot at a lower percentage. While Hayward isn’t the fastest or longest guy out of this group, he is still an incredibly smart player that is able to contribute on both sides of the floor.
As I said earlier, Hayward was limited on his old team. Which means he has more opportunity to improve with the Boston Celtics.
His old team played a very slow pace of basketball, and he will benefit from playing a faster paced game with the Celtics. He will be able to drive to the basket easier in Boston due to the bigs that they have. Boston has bigs that stretch the floor, and have the best assisting big man in the league in Al Horford. This will be a nice change for Hayward who had bigs that clogged the paint with his old team. He will also see an increased number of open looks due to the massive amount of attention that Isaiah Thomas is able to draw while on the court. There is a weapon that I believe he will be able to add to his arsenal now that he is playing for the Celtics. Brad Stevens loves to put wing players in the post, and I anticipate that Hayward won’t be an exception to this.
Hayward is clearly motivated to play for Brad Stevens again, and still has a bitter taste in his mouth from when they lost the 2010 NCAA National Championship game.
This quote from Hayward will send chills down your spine, “And that unfinished business we had together, back in 2010, when I left Butler for the NBA … as far as I’m concerned, all of these years later, we still have it: And that’s to win a championship.”
This is a move that the Celtics had to make. Hayward and the Celtics need each other. Isaiah Thomas has already stated that Hayward is “the type of player we needed to get to the Finals. I’m excited and can’t wait to get to work.”
This upcoming season will be a blast to watch!
Green Runs Deep.