On October 17 of 2017, Gordon Hayward sustained a gruesome injury as he dislocated his ankle and fractured his tibia on the same play. This led to Hayward missing all of the 2017-2018 season. He returned last season and played 72 games, but wasn’t the same player. He averaged 11.5 PPG which was his lowest since his rookie season. This year though, Gordon Hayward is becoming the player many of us expected when he first came to Boston as he is averaging 20.3 PPG, 7.9 RPG, and 4.6 APG over the team’s first 7 games and ranks 17th in value over replacement player, which is a stat that indicates how valuable a player is to their respective team. He has been very impressive thus far and this scouting report will show why.
Gordon Hayward Scouting Report
Experience: 9 years
Weight: 207 lbs.
Gordon Hayward is an intelligent player. On offense, he’s very much a read and react player. When he is on the ball, he reads the defense and will do what the defense gives him. Gordon is a great secondary ball-handler for an offense as he is a willing and capable passer. Hayward plays at his own speed and gets to his spots despite being a below-average athlete. He knows how to create space using ball fakes while using the defender’s momentum against them. He then has a soft touch around the rim to capitalize. With his jump shot, Gordon Hayward has a smooth and fluid motion that is fairly consistent and he is especially comfortable in the mid-range. Though Hayward can score, he is not a ball stopper. The offense continues to flow and keeps his teammates involved. Off the ball, he can beat his man backdoor when they are in denial which leads to easy layups. As I alluded to earlier, Hayward is not the most athletic which makes him limited as a defender. I also mentioned that he has a high IQ though as he does a good job of staying in front of his man, doesn’t foul often, and plays team defense. He will also crash the glass well for a wing.
Since the injury, Hayward has not been the same driver. He is only attempting 2.7 free throws per game so far and before the injury, he would get to the line about 6 times per game. Hayward is a good dribbler with both hands but he rarely turns the corner going left and will usually use a ball fake then fade away from the rim and while it is effective right now, this could be problematic in the future. When the playoffs come, this move won’t be as effective as it has been in the regular season. In the playoffs, teams will have time to prepare and will be able to predict Hayward’s fakes so if he wants to be a legitimate 2nd or 3rd option for the Celtics, he needs to just learn to turn the corner and go all the way. This isn’t a problem of talent as it is more just a tendency so this is very fixable. While he has been an above-average 3 point shooter for most of his career, his range doesn’t extend too far beyond the 3 point line. On defense, Gordon doesn’t generate turnovers as he is very conservative. He doesn’t jump the passing lane or harass the opposing ball handler. He also has a 6’8 wingspan but is not a weak side rim protector for his team.
Gordon has been a great surprise this year and is showing signs he can be that 2nd or 3rd option on a good team. He knows his strengths and weaknesses as a player and uses that to his advantage. The offense is at it’s best when Hayward, Kemba, and Tatum are on the floor. Gordon is arguably the best passer on this team and will make good reads consistently especially out of the pick and roll. There are a lot of positive signs for Hayward to become that same all-star caliber player he was before the injury. My biggest concern is his limited number of free throw attempts and unwillingness to turn the corner going left. He may want to play it safe and do what he can to limit the possibility of getting injured again, which I can respect in the regular season. Once the playoffs come though, he can’t play this predictable or else he is just going to hurt his team. You want to give Hayward the benefit of the doubt though as he is a smart guy. He probably is aware of what he is doing now and is just trying to play it safe until the playoffs come but only time will tell. On defense, the Celtics have enough playmakers already and it’s not like Hayward is a liability. Right now, Hayward has an impressive +4.2 offensive box plus-minus and is +0.8 in defensive box plus-minus. Now it has only been 7 games this year, but don’t expect them to change too much as these numbers are fairly similar to when he was in Utah.
Article Written by Bradley Patten
Stats and measurables found on basketball-reference (https://www.basketball-reference.com/players/h/haywago01.html)
Photo credit to to David Liam Kyle/NBAE via Getty Images (https://celticswire.usatoday.com/2019/11/06/gordon-hayward-put-himself-in-elite-company-after-win-over-cleveland/)