While some members of the Boston Celtics have traveled far and wide for offseason workouts and to improve their games, including four players suiting up for Team USA, Gordon Hayward decided to stay put.
Hayward remained back in Boston for the summer, getting in his offseason training at the team’s facility as he keeps an eye on the upcoming NBA season.
This offseason is a far contrast – and one much more to Hayward’s liking – to what he endured during the summer months a year ago when he was rehabbing from a significant leg injury that limited him to just five minutes on the court in his first season in Boston.
“Back to no restrictions, so that’s felt really nice,” said Hayward on the biggest difference between the two offseasons. “Being able to train exactly how I’m used to training. Not having to worry about only doing stuff for 10 minutes or only doing a certain amount of reps and not having to worry about surgery or anything, too. It’s been really good from that standpoint.”
Hayward appeared in 72 games for the Celtics in the 2018-19 regular season, but his play for the most part didn’t resemble the All-Star caliber he reached in his final season with the Utah Jazz.
It was apparent early on that there were mental hurdles for Hayward to clear as he shied away from going to basket and couldn’t finish at the rim like he did in his days with Utah. But Hayward also showed glimpses as to why the Celtics coveted him following the 2016-17 season.
Hayward notched 30 and 35 points in two outings a month apart versus the Minnesota Timberwolves and put on a display of efficiency in early April versus the Indiana Pacers when he went a perfect 9-for-9 from the floor and finished with 21 points. And with an offseason to focus on his play instead of rehabilitation, there’s more self-assurance from Hayward that performances like those are on the horizon.
“More than anything just building back some confidence,” said Hayward of his offseason. “Being able to do everything that I’m used to doing. Just having the reps. The reps is what gives you confidence. Being able to do things over and over and over and not worry about how my ankle is feeling or having to be cautious with it has been really good, especially for my confidence.”
Despite having to adjust to the new roster the C’s have assembled, Hayward should be more comfortable as he begins his third season with the Celtics.
And with Hayward’s devastating injury further and further in the past, it has him licking his chops about all the possibilities. Not just for himself, but for the team, too.
“More than excited to welcome Kemba (Walker) and Enes (Kanter) and Vincent (Poirier) and all the other guys that are new for us,” Hayward said. “I’ve seen the rookies around, too, being at the facility. Really impressed with their work ethic. Man, just excited about the year.”