BOSTON (CBS) — The 2018-19 Boston Celtics season was a major disappointment for everyone involved. That includes Gordon Hayward, who was never really able to return to his usual form after missing all of last season.
Hayward struggled from the jump, initially in the starting five before being relegated to the bench in November. He had a handful of games where he looked like his old self, but overall, struggled to consistently impact the Celtics in a good way.
He started just 18 games during the regular season, averaging 11.5 points on 8.8 attempts per game — his lowest average since his rookie season. After a promising opening round against his hometown Indiana Pacers, Hayward vanished against Milwaukee. He gave Boston just 7.4 points per game off 32 percent shooting in their five game defeat to the Bucks.
“We obviously didn’t get the result we wanted. So we weren’t all on the same page. I think that’s just how it is,” Hayward said Thursday at the Auerbach Center in Brighton. “Some of that is just on us. That’s what happens in a series – especially when you go through some trials in a series.”
While Hayward was pinpointing the series against the Bucks, that is a great summation of Boston’s season-long struggles.
“Certainly, a frustrating and disappointing season. Challenging for me, individually. I think a lot of people felt that way throughout the course of the season,” he said.
Blame should be distributed up and down the Boston roster, but Hayward was a big part to their season-long struggles. While most of the fault lies with Kyrie Irving’s nasty attitude, the Celtics were counting on Hayward to perform at a somewhat elite level. That never happened. His return threw off all the good chemistry the Celtics built during their surprise run to the Conference Finals last season, and it was something that Boston was never able to replicate with their full stable of players.
The big question now is what Hayward can offer going forward. He’s on Boston’s books for two more years at roughly $67 million. The team’s once-promising future is now murky with Irving set to opt out, and no one knows how the Celtics roster is going to look next season. No matter who is still around, the Celtics are going to need a lot more out of Hayward next season if they want any shot at returning to contender status.
With a full offseason that isn’t hampered with recovery or another surgery, Hayward is confident he can bounce back.
“It’s a lot easier to get ready for this offseason than it was last year. I don’t have to worry about the ankle or anything. That’s kind of how I’ll move forward, using this season as some motivation and fuel,” he said. “Just looking forward to attacking it.”