By: Patrick Whalen
2018-19 Report Card:
Up next on The Parquet’s report cards is the one and only Gordon “Daddy’s Always Happy” Hayward. Entering his second season as a Celtic no one knew what to expect from Hayward after his horrible injury in 2017-18. People were wondering would he start? How productive of a scorer would he be? How far from Utah Gordon is he? Well, he would only start 18 games as he and Jaylen Brown became the sixth and seventh man for the Celtics. Hayward’s production took a sharp drop but that was expected between coming off the bench and coming off such a horrific injury. Despite that big drop in production we still saw some glimpses of old Gordon. Aggressively driving to the rim and not second thinking taking shots. He had 6 games of 20 or more points including 3 games of 30+.
Gordon was still able to average 25.9 minutes per game last season which was a good sign in itself as most teams have to ease players back into those high minute totals after a severe injury like that. He was also able to play in 72 of the 82 games last season. Stat wise like I mentioned earlier his scoring numbers took a big drop. He averaged 11.5 points per game and averaged only 8.8 shots per game. But despite the year off most of Hayward’s stats were pretty similar to his last season in Utah. He shot 46.6% from the field, only 0.5% lower than his 2016-17 Utah season. He averaged 3.4 assists per game which were almost the same as his last Utah season and he averaged 4.5 rebounds per game which were only a decrease of 0.9. The part of Hayward’s game that took the biggest hit was this three-point percentage. In 2016-17 he shot 39.8%, his highest percentage since becoming a regular starter. Last season that dipped to 33.3%. This is understandable seeing how Gordon couldn’t practice a jump shot, nevermind a three-pointer until months after his surgery. The one stat that did surprise people was that Gordon’s two-point percentage actually increased as he shot 54.2% from inside the arc. This is understandable seeing how most of Hayward’s early post-op workouts featured him shooting free throws in a chair and just getting up standing layups.
Despite many angry fans calling for Hayward to be traded I’m still gonna give him a B for last season because if you look back at similar injuries, most recently Paul George, it took most of those guys a year to get back and feel comfortable on the court. In his second season back from his injury George had his best season as a Pacer and only improved when he joined the OKC Thunder. Hopefully, we can see that year 1 to 2 growth from Gordon and get somewhere close to Utah Gordon.
Final Grade: B
For Gordon, I’m predicting that there will be an improvement in his scoring but with the ascension of Jayson Tatum and the edition of Kemba Walker, I don’t see him suddenly jumping back up to 20-21 points per game. I just think there’s too much talent around him to make that quick jump from 11.5 to 20+. But there are some promising reports coming out of the Celtics camp as owner Wyc Grousbeck said that, “Gordon is in the gym just about everyday working on his game.” Now if it weren’t for the 4 Celtics players playing for team USA this summer this would be one of the offseason headlines for the Celtics. But, maybe this will be better for Hayward so he can work on his game behind the scenes and not have the media asking him every day how his game is progressing. Plus, Gordon already said himself that “it feels better this summer working with no restrictions.” Even the rookies are taking notice, Grant Williams said recently, “he sees the aggressiveness is back in him.” Plus we now have video of Gordon grinding in the gym and he is looking poised to bounce back this year.
So with all the positive news out of Hayward’s camp, I feel like he will have a bounce-back season. Now again he won’t be a 20+ ppg scorer but his scoring average will be up, his consistency on a nightly basis will be better and he will have games where he looks like old Gordon more often. Plus with the losses of Kyrie Irving, Al Horford, Marcus Morris Sr, and Terry Rozier there will not only be more minutes for Hayward but more opportunities for him to step up as a leader for this team. I also think that because of all of this that Gordon will start for the majority of the season and the Celtics will run a small ball starting lineup with Gordon, Kemba, Tatum, Jaylen, and new big man Enes Kanter.
Predictions for 2019-20:
PPG: 16.4 RPG: 4.8 APG: 4.2 MPG 30.1 FGA: 13.6 FG%: 47.9% 3P%: 36.1%
Now let’s take a look back at some of the flashes that Gordon showed last season for some of his best highlights.
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