Boston Celtics: How big of an improvement is Gordon Hayward over Avery Bradley?

BOSTON, MA - FEBRUARY 29: Avery Bradley
BOSTON, MA - FEBRUARY 29: Avery Bradley /

Gordon Hayward is the Boston Celtics biggest acquisition of the Summer, there is no doubt about that. But how big of an improvement is he over their biggest departure, Avery Bradley?

Danny Ainge and the Boston Celtics knew they’d have some big moves to make once they recruited Gordon Hayward, but everyone though Jae Crowder was going to be the man to go. It turns out that it is truly impossible to predict Danny. Avery Bradley was sent to the Pistons soon after Gordon decided to become a Celtic. Gordon Hayward has to be an improvement, right?

Offensive weapons


Gordon Hayward and Avery Bradley seem to be about equal on the offensive side of the basketball. They both have shot just over 44 percent from the field over the course of their careers. They shoot about the same percentage from the 3-point arc too, both of their career marks resting just below 37 percent.

Hayward has averaged 15.7 points per game over his career, while Avery Bradley has only averaged 12.1 points. That’s a 3.5 point differential. Hayward also gets to the free throw line more often than Bradley, and he knocks down more of his attempts. The former Butler Bulldog has a career average of 82 percent from the charity stripe, while the former Texas Longhorn has made only 77.2 percent of his free throws.

LOS ANGELES, CA – APRIL 15: Gordon Hayward
LOS ANGELES, CA – APRIL 15: Gordon Hayward /


As far as passing goes, both players don’t put up monster assist totals, but there is a big difference between their numbers. The former Utah star has averaged 3.4 assists in his 6-year career. The former Boston Celtics guard has only averaged 1.7 assists per game, but he does average less turnovers, only 1.4 compared to Hayward’s 2.1.

The less glamorous side of the ball

Stats aren’t the big picture

Out of the two players, Avery Bradley is obviously the better defender, but Gordon Hayward isn’t that far behind. The stats, of course, do not tell the story, but they are very close in steals and blocks, both averaging at least a steal per game and way under one block per game over their careers.

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When you watch both of them play off-ball defense, you will notice that more often than not, both players are denying the pass to their man. The only difference would be the way they deny it. Hayward tends to stay backed off of his man. He will make a play on the pass, or he will help trap anyone trying to drive into the lane. Avery Bradley, however, plays tight to his man, and if he gets the ball, the 6’2 defensive phenom will be all over him, not allowing him any breathing room.


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When playing on-ball defense, they both play very similar. They both tend to let their matchup dribble and dance with the ball as much as they want, but once they pick up the ball, whether to shoot or pass, they are all on him, not allowing him to do anything but throw up a prayer or pass it backwards. It’s a smart way to tire out your opponent and stop them from getting in close.

Always coming to conclusions

Bradley and Hayward, two fantastic players at their positions, are very similar players. The choice between the two, however, was a no-brainer for the C’s front office. The factors that make Hayward the better decision are:

  1. Gordon played for Brad Stevens in his college years, which will hopefully make it easier for the newcomer to make his presence felt on the team.
  2. Avery Bradley’s contract will expire after this next season, and he will want to get paid big time. By trading him, Ainge is marking something off of next year’s agenda.
  3. The Boston Celtics will benefit by playing position-less basketball on both sides of the floor. With this in mind, moving Bradley was an easy decision when you take into account that Boston drafted Jayson Tatum and signed Gordon Hayward.

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With these factors stated and with the comparisons made, the Celtics can only benefit from choosing Hayward over Bradley.