The NBA is BACK and as a basketball fan, could we ask better than Cavs-Celts and Rockets-Warriors matchups on an opening night? Yes, it would have been a perfect night if we didn’t have to witness that gruesome injury of newly acquired Celtics forward Gordon Hayward trying to catch an alley-oop from his new teammates Kyrie Irving. Let’s send all of our prayers to Gordon and his family and wishing him a speedy recovery. Even if we know that some things are bigger than basketball, we can’t ignore that his absence will affect the team’s formula.
Let’s remember how loud coach Brad was after the signing of Hayward saying that modern basketball is positionless. You only need a ball handler (that would be the point guard), a scoring forward who is able to handle the ball also and a big body to protect the paint. Between this quote, Isaiah‘s posts after the signing, we knew that all the organizations were excited about what Gordon.H was bringing to the table.
I know some of you will say that he’s not LeBron nor KD but Hayward is a very talented player capable of splitting the defense and with Brad’s system, he would have really been more efficient since one of the Celtics problem last season was that Isaiah was the primary (and let’s say the only) ball handler of the team so when the opposing teams decided to increase the defensive pressure, no one else could put the ball on the floor and create smart plays. So offensively, Hayward was solving one of their primary issues being an excellent ball handler of 6 feet 8 with a good shooting, he is able to play up to 3 positions and defend over 1 to 4. Oh did I mention that he can play very well off the ball so with a player like Kyrie, it’s really important to have a teammate not so greedy about the ball. Finally, since he’s been in the league, Hayward kept improving as a player from 5.4pts in his rookie year to 22 pts last season, earning him his first all-star selection, many predicted that under Stevens’s system, he was about to have his best year. Now that he’s out for 6 to 7 months, where does that leave Celtics contention hope and what are Stevens’s options?
The keys to the Celtics success this year lays in how much can their youth bring to the table. Even if Danny Ainge had to rebuild a whole different team to get Hayward, he still kept the roster young and athletic. Last season we witnessed good progress in Terry Rozier’s game, notably what he brought from the bench in the playoffs (ball handling, smart defense, and clever shooting choice) and at 23, he will keep improving. They also have a young, very athletic young guy capable of playing 2 to 4 spot in Jalen Brown, also a very good defender. Since he’s projected to insert the starting lineup and have more responsibility, he might share the scoring load with Kyrie who, we can all agree, will put 25 ppg with very good percentage. As we saw in the summer league and their first game against Cavaliers, Jason Tatum will be a versatile offensive machine, now Boston’s season will depend on how fast he can develop into an elite scorer and how well can him matchup defensively with the forward. But his skill set and size are one of the reasons some people still think Boston can still be a threat in the east and finish in one of the three first spots. The season just got started and those new NBA watchers already predicting that the Celtics seasons is done, that they will fall to 8th seed and maybe miss the playoffs. STOP, cause they still got one of the best young and creative coach in the league and Brad has already proven that with a couple of average talented players, he can execute great system and get the best of his roster.