It’s safe to say that Gordon Hayward will enter the 2019-20 season as a bit of a wild card with the Boston Celtics.
Hayward played catch up through seemingly all of last season as he returned to action after his gruesome ankle injury on opening night in 2017.
Now two years removed from the injury, next season will be a big proving ground for the forward, to prove that he can return to his old self as an All-Star scorer in the NBA, or if the Hayward we saw last season has become his new normal.
Hayward has been working out vigorously this offseason with Celtics assistant coach Scott Morrison since the season ended and Morrison said the 29-year-old is looking “stronger.”
“Gordon looks great,? Morrison told reporters, via NBC Sports Boston’s Chris Forsberg. “This will be the fifth or sixth week we?ve been going every day. We?ve got a pretty intense weight program three or four days a week; he?s on the court five days a week.
“He?s getting stronger, getting faster, getting leaner, and, from a basketball perspective, it?s hard to test things like that, but I think he looks pretty good. His shot and ball-handling is a lot crisper. He?s just hungry to get better. I don?t want to speak for him but I?m very happy with the effort and progress that he?s putting in.”
Hayward averaged 11.5 points per game last season, his lowest output since his rookie season. He nearly was invisible in the Celtics’ series loss to the Milwaukee Bucks. With his max contract, it’s needless to say the C’s would like some more offensive production.
A rejuvenated Hayward could prove to be an ace in the hole for the new-look Celtics led by Kemba Walker. Boston potentially looks stacked at the wing with Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown continuing to improve.