Members of the Celtics organization hyped up Gordon Hayward so emphatically this offseason that president of basketball operations Danny Ainge tried to reel in expectations before the start of the preseason.
Ainge, of course, knows just how heavy the burden of expectations can be after watching the 2018-19 season.
But say this about Hayward, if he’s weighed down at all by the expectations heaped upon him, he doesn’t seem fazed in the least.
"I don’t feel any pressure,” said Hayward. "The only pressure that comes is just from myself, just trying to help us win games and be who I am.”
It was Hayward who wrote on his blog last month that he’s, "ready to be the player I came here to be.” If Hayward is even close to his pre-injury form, it raises the ceiling on what the 2019-20 Celtics can achieve.
No pressure, Gordon.
It’s a successful season for Hayward if …
… Hayward plays with the consistency and confidence that so clearly fluctuated last season. There were nights in the 2018-19 season where Hayward was the best player on the court, including in the playoffs against Indiana, and then there were times where his ankle defied him and he struggled to impact the game. Don’t get hung up on the scoring output, especially with the offensive talent the Celtics have. Hayward’s ability to create for others will be as important as creating for himself.
It’s a disappointing season for Hayward if…
… we’re still talking about the ankle injury — or any new ailment — in 2020. Hayward is sick of answering questions about his rehab and we’re tired of asking him about how he’s feeling. All that goes in the rearview if Hayward consistently plays at a high level out of the gates.
Two years later, it might finally be crazy, G. Hayward has looked really crisp in the glimpses we’ve seen heading into the regular season. Enes Kanter says he should be eyeing a return to the All-Star Game and he’ll have every opportunity to state his case for consideration. Hayward has a chance to re-establish himself as one of the better two-way players in the league, and the Celtics will need his versatility on defense, especially given the departures in the frontcourt.
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