Hot Take Marathon: Gordon Hayward Will Ruin the Boston Celtics’ Chemistry
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*The NBA offseason is cooling down, but the takes at OTG aren't. This month, we are hitting you with the Hot Take Marathon. Check back every day for a spicy NBA take!*
I wanted to start the OTG Hot Take Marathon with some flames. Gordon Hayward will make his long-awaited return to the Boston Celtics’ starting lineup this season after he tragically suffered a grotesque, season-ending injury just five minutes into the 2017-18 season. I think his presence will be more of a negative than a positive, at least at the start of the season.
I mean, look at how good the Celtics did without Hayward last year. They were the best defensive team in the NBA while developing their young stars. In addition, look at how far this group went in the NBA Playoffs without Hayward or Kyrie Irving! As they bring back the exact same core, Hayward could struggle to find a good fit with this talented Celtics roster.
Hayward is not a bad defender. He has the physical tools to be a nightmare on the wing and head coach Brad Stevens can turn him into such a menace. But do not expect Hayward to be a good defensive fit with the team by the start of the season. The Celtics figured out a lot of things on that side of the ball that Hayward missed as he recovered last year
He may just be one step behind all of his teammates in that aspect. I think it will take him some time to adjust and feel comfortable in Boston’s switch-heavy schemes.
Also, Hayward will immediately command a starting lineup spot. He deserves to be there but that means a former starter will now have to ride the bench. Stevens made changes to his starting lineups, often choosing either Marcus Morris or Aron Baynes to start alongside Al Horford as the two big men. Hayward’s return means Jayson Tatum will most probably be pushed as the starting small-ball power forward alongside Horford, Irving, and Jaylen Brown, which forces teammates to play some uncomfortable roles.
It also means Terry Rozier and Marcus Smart will have decreased roles this season, which could cause some unnecessary locker room issues and discontent among players and the coaching staff. Rozier is due a new contract at the end of the season, which could only increase his frustrations regarding his new role and playing time.
Of course, there is also a possibility I’m being ridiculously pessimist and Hayward makes the Celtics an even better team than they already were, but only time will tell.