A little over a year ago, Gordon Hayward got injured. Badly. He returned this year. He has struggled. The Boston Celtics have struggled. People are wondering why.
Hayward was recently shifted to the bench, where he put up an 0-fer on New Year’s Eve. He followed that up with a 35-point explosion two days later. What’s going on here?
Cleaning The Glass recently had an interesting discussion encompassing Hayward’s struggles and usage. The discussion inevitably turned to Hayward’s devastating injury, a fractured left tibia and ankle dislocation that involved on-court reduction and surgery to repair both the fracture and ligaments. In case you need a reminder on how gruesome the injury was, see below:
In the aforementioned discussion, CTG founder Ben Falk states the following:
“…a big drop in finishing is one of the easier ways we can see, statistically, the result of injuries. HIs rate of drawing shooting fouls is also on pace to be a career-low…With reduced explosiveness around the rim, he isn’t able to draw contact or finish at the same rates….he’s definitely less explosive on film…of his six dunks this year, only one has been off that previously injured left foot…In Utah, he’d dunk off either foot or both feet.”
Since then, Hayward has boosted that total all the way up to…eleven. Three of those dunks came in one game. What is interesting is that two of those three dunks involved lifting off both feet (it’s hard to tell which foot he’s lifting off of in the third one). You can almost envision Hayward aging a thousand years as he leaps to the hoop: