Boston Celtics: 3 Reasons why a healthy Gordon Hayward may hinder the development of Jayson Tatum
Coming into the 2019 season, the Boston Celtics are gearing up to finally have a version of Gordon Hayward that is both mentally and physically healthy. This could spell disaster for Jayson Tatum.
When the Boston Celtics inked Gordon Hayward to a four-year, $128 million deal back in the summer of 2017, it was believed amongst fans and front office personnel alike that the franchise had found their star forward of the future.
His relationship with Celtics Head Coach Brad Stevens — who coached Hayward while at Butler — paired with the forward coming off of his first All-Star season made Boston’s pursuit of Hayward appear to be a no-brainer.
However (as we all painfully remember) enthusiasm for Hayward’s inaugural season in green and white was emphatically curbed almost as soon as it began. Within the first five minutes of Boston’s season, Hayward suffered a gruesome injury. Celtics Nation collectively winced while watching Hayward fracture his tibia and simultaneously dislocate his left ankle after an awkward landing from an alley-oop attempt.
With this, the small forward required not one, but two surgeries on his injured leg and, thus, shut him down for the entirety of the season.
Because of this Jayson Tatum, Boston’s first round pick that season, was thrust into a much larger role with the C’s than originally anticipated — and things couldn’t have worked out any better for the Duke product.
In his rookie season, Tatum started 80 games for the Celtics while averaging 13.9 points and 5 boards per game on 48% shooting from the field and 43% from 3. The 19-year-old took his game to even greater heights under the bright lights of the postseason, as he averaged 18.5 points and 4.4 rebounds per night while leading his team to within one game of the NBA Finals.
Coming into 2018, expectations were through the roof for Tatum to elevate his game to an even greater level and to help Boston steamroll through the suddenly “wide-open” Eastern Conference.
As we now all know, Boston ended up being knocked out by the Bucks in round two of the playoffs while Tatum, unfortunately, seemed to plateau in what was supposed to be his “breakout season.” Now, there were many reasons as to why things didn’t end up working out for the Celtics last season and it is impossible to pinpoint one reason as to why the team as a whole underperformed.
However, in the case as to why Tatum may not have lived up to these aforementioned lofty expectations, perhaps the biggest cause was the presence of Hayward back in the line-up.
Though he was listed as physically healthy to play last season, with an injury like that, the mental toll it took on him generally takes longer to overcome than the physical injury itself.
With over two-years removed since that fateful day, the small forward should be coming into 2019 mentally and physically healed. Though fans may be excited to finally see the version of the forward the team believed they were getting back in 2017, with this comes concern over how he may impact Jayson Tatum’s progression.
Here are three reasons as to why a healthy Gordon Hayward may hinder the 21-year-old’s development.