January has been up-and-down for the Boston Celtics, but forward Gordon Hayward has been displaying the unique set of skills that made him the star Boston coveted.
The NBA is in full-on trade rumor season and Gordon Hayward of the Boston Celtics is proving his name should no longer be tossed into the mix. In fact, his play of late makes it hard to believe he was even mentioned to begin with.
Hayward has simply been locked in to close out January, playing at an all-star level and proving his worth to the Boston Celtics.
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Hayward scored 25, collecting 15 points in the first quarter alone. He also finished with eight rebounds and three assists.
Hayward has also only improved as the month has ticked along. He averaged 17.9 ppg, seven times scoring 20 points or more. In three of those games, he shot better than 70 percent from the field.
The January averages were slightly higher than his season average of 17.2 points and 6.3 rebounds per game. Hayward is also shooting 51.7 percent from the field and 38.1 percent from deep, both higher than his career averages of 45 and 36.5 percent, respectively.
His value is high right now, yes, but the better choice is for Boston to keep him and continue to let him be the scorer he is.
Stepping up as needed
Injuries have taken their toll on Boston in 2019-20, but the Celtics have battled their way to a 32-15 record, good for tied for the third seed in the Eastern Conference. Hayward, who has missed or sat out 16 games himself, is an important reason why the Celtics have fared well.
While he hadn’t been performing at his pre-Boston level on a consistent basis, trading Hayward was not going to be a solution. He’s a valuable asset to the Celtics, a scorer whether starting or coming off the bench.
At the beginning of the season, I believed Hayward would have been best utilized as a scorer off the bench, and while he accepted that role on occasion, Hayward has proven to be even better in the starting lineup. It also helps that Marcus Smart is bringing a healthy dose of offense as of late.
The injuries and having key players miss games can be frustrating, but this team is coming together and having fun while doing so (something that was missing last season). Solid depth is being built, with Hayward and Smart among those continuing to contribute and get better.
Hayward specifically has picked up the slack while the trio of Tatum, Brown, and Walker have been forced to miss games. And to see all four on the court against the Warriors was a delight.
Having so many proven scorers who can drop twenty points or more on any given night is nothing but good news for the Celtics. If the defense continues to be one of the top-5 in the league in points allowed, this roster matches up well with any team in the league.
Now, if they could just figure out a way to beat those pesky Philadelphia 76ers.