Boston Celtics: 3 reasons Gordon Hayward should not rush his return

CLEVELAND, OH - OCTOBER 17: Gordon Hayward
CLEVELAND, OH - OCTOBER 17: Gordon Hayward /

Following a horrific lower leg injury to start the season, Boston Celtics star Gordon Hayward is close to having his walking boot removed and has thoughts of a quicker return.

 There were two things Boston Celtics fans couldn’t imagine when Gordon Hayward went down with a broken tibia in the season opener.  One was the team getting off to a fast 23-6 start and the other is the star returning at any point during the 2017-18 season.

Okay, maybe most fans were and still are holding out hope on the latter.  But, with the team, Hayward’s agent and the star himself dejecting any chance of a return during the final months of the season, those thoughts relinquished to the back of everyone’s minds.

That is, until word got out that Hayward could possibly be ahead of schedule in his healing process.  The new Celtics star is close to having his walking boot removed and in a recent interview with Boston Globe’s Adam Himmelsbach, gave a little hope that perhaps a return this season is not totally out of the question.

CHARLOTTE, NC – OCTOBER 11: Marvin Williams
CHARLOTTE, NC – OCTOBER 11: Marvin Williams /

"“It’s definitely in the back of my mind,” Hayward confessed in the interview.  “I’m definitely pushing to get back as fast as I can, while making sure that I still have a lot of good years of basketball in me.  And coming back early and hurting something else is not part of that plan.  So I’m making sure that if I come back I’m 1,000 percent confident in myself and my leg.”"

Hayward went on to say that he does hope he can play this season.  But again, not “stressing” about that possibility.  His focus at the moment is getting better physically and mentally.

As awesome as it would be to see Gordon Hayward return during this season, that is exactly where his focus should be…on getting better.  With that being his main motivation, there are three reasons he should wait to make his return to start the 2018-19 season.

No physical setback 

One obvious reason is to make sure he is physically ready and able.  Gordon Hayward is doing and saying all the right things, but his eagerness to play basketball could make him think and believe his lower leg is strong enough before it actually is.

Related Story: Gordon Hayward: Boston Celtics star vows he’ll return ‘better than ever’

Of course, any type of return will require clearance from team doctors, but his ability to jump, make cuts and even run at full speed could slow down how he plays the game of basketball.

While it’s true that a limited Hayward is still better than much of what the Boston Celtics have coming off the bench, it would not be worth jeopardizing him missing any part of next season by coming back sooner than expected and having any sort of setback, which plays into reason No. 2.

The mental game

Again, Hayward seems to have a great outlook as far as his overall rehabilitation goes, but he is a human being.

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When a player or any individual goes through the type of injury Hayward injured, it is hard to approach a situation the same way.  Will he think twice before going up for another lob pass?  Will he think twice before jumping period?  If he gets injured again or has another issue with the same lower leg, how will that set him back emotionally?

Those are things to consider and something that is probably already going through his mind.  With his focus on getting better, he has to allow his mental health the necessary amount of time to heal as well.

The team will be better off

As great as the team will look with a healthy Gordon Hayward, the team will be even better next season.  Not only has his absence allowed Kyrie Irving to take on more of a role as a leader, it has given an increased opportunity to young players like Jaylen Brown and rookie Jayson Tatum.

With those two younger playing the type of minutes they are and contributing, it will give the Boston Celtics a more formidable starting five next season.  Irving, Brown, Hayward, Tatum and Al Horford in 2018-19 appears to be a much better lineup now than it was at the start of this campaign.

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Still exciting, yes, but Hayward’s injury has allowed both Brown and Tatum to grow up before our eyes.  They will continue to grow as the season wears on and therefore become better compliments to both Irving and a completely healthy Hayward.