Gordon Hayward is a very good basketball player. The unfortunate truth though is that for most he is known for two specific moments in his career.
The first came in college as Hayward was a bounce away from a half-court, National Championship clinching shot against Duke in what would have been a monumental upset for Butler. While that pain was of the emotional variety the other well-known memory of Hayward had much greater ramifications. Hayward had barely begun his career with the Boston Celtics before it took a drastic turn for the worse with a grotesque injury (viewer beware).
You could argue that Hayward never truly recovered from that injury in Boston, although he did take a nice step forward last season, and that set his departure in motion. As we enter the 2020-21 season Hayward now calls Charlotte home and things will look a lot different for him from a DFS perspective.
After a slow start to his NBA career in the 2010-11 season Hayward improved each season prior to his last with Utah. The forward then parlayed that into a large free agent deal with Boston. We know all about his debut that lasted all of about five minutes, but who was Hayward prior to the injury?
In his last season with the Jazz the forward averaged 21.9 points per game with 5.4 rebounds, and 3.5 assists. It was also the best season of Hayward’s career but it wasn’t that far off from his two previous campaigns. While Hayward will contribute a few rebounds and assists the majority of his DFS value does come from his offensive abilities.
With Boston the problem was that Hayward never truly got that chance. We know about the injury and the fact that he was able to return at all the following season let alone play 72 games was quite impressive. By that point Hayward never had the chance to develop any chemistry with his new teammates and he was still finding his way. Playing 26 minutes per game Hayward averaged 11.5 points, 4.5 rebounds, and 3.4 assists. Last season was a different story though as we got to see more of what he is capable of.
Both with the Jazz and initially on Boston, Hayward was one of the main cogs in his team’s offense. That certainly was the case last season for the Celtics as the forward was a little further down in the offensive pecking order with Jayson Tatum and Kemba Walker taking on larger roles was also contending with Jaylen Brown among others. Hayward still averaged 17.5 points per game and he actually reached a career high in rebounds with 6.7 while also chipping in 4.1 assists.
Regardless of both his past success and his performance last season I am not touching the four year, $120 million Hayward received from Charlotte. That is simply a sign of the times but we as DFS players aren’t going to be the ones paying him. All that matters is what can we expect from him in the coming season?
Despite the presence of Tatum and Boston’s other weapons it’s hard to argue with Hayward’s scoring last season. This season with the Hornets, Hayward won’t have to contend with that as he is clearly the number one option. Granted that also means defenses will be focusing more of their attention on Hayward but I’m not sure how much of a downgrade he will have at the point guard position between Devonte’ Graham and LaMelo Ball.
We know how short the off-season and training camp will be this year but that doesn’t change the fact that Hayward is going to be the focal point of Charlotte’s offense. It wouldn’t surprise me to see him set a career high in scoring as the usage will be there.
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