Everything was looking up this season for Celtics forward Gordon Hayward. He was fully healthy. The man was ready to take more shots with Kyrie gone and become more aggressive. He was averaging 20 points a game and making a case for an Eastern Conference All-star bid. Then, Saturday afternoon and this play happened.
Gordon Hayward fractured his left hand and the timetable for returning is now uncertain. I really feel for Hayward here. He has had such terrible luck since signing with Boston. But now, the question becomes: who steps up in Hayward's absence? Let's discuss.
With Hayward out, some minutes will probably be handed down to Semi Ojeleye. Is this a move that myself and other Celtics fans are necessarily happy with? Not really. But, it's the reality that we face. A lot of Celtics fans would probably say that Ojeleye is pretty sound defensively, but his offensive game still needs some work. Don't get me wrong, Ojeleye can get hot every now and again shooting the ball. But, it doesn't happen as consistently as we might like to see. With this in mind, Ojeleye is going to have to be more aggressive on the offensive end. Does he have to score 20 a game like Hayward? No! But, scoring 10-12 can definitely help the Celtics in a time of need.
The 26 year old Javonte Green is an interesting case. He was the last spot on the Celtics roster heading into the season. The thing is, he can help this Celtics team in their time of need. First of all, he is extremely athletic. He can jump to the sky and play lock down defense. There have been glimpses this season where Green has looked like he can help the Celtics with more minutes. With Hayward sidelined for now, look for Green's minutes per game to go up. With Brad Stevens priding himself on the defensive side of the ball, Green's number should be called more often than not.
The Entire Celtics Starting Unit
The Celtics starting five is going to obviously have to step it up right now. Kemba Walker has started playing better since his mediocre start to the season. But, he is going to have to be "Cardiac Kemba" just a little bit more these next few weeks/months. The two J's, Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, are going to have to continue to show the NBA why Danny Ainge has so much trust in them to lead the Celtics in the present and in the future. Marcus Smart will now likely be in the starting lineup, so will he continue to show us that maybe his outside shooting has taken a turn for the better? Then, there's the rotating big man position. With Daniel Theis and Robert Williams, it is sufficient enough where you don't feel like it's a major hole in the lineup. Don't forget, Enes Kanter is close to being back in the fold as well. Whoever is in this starting five going forward has to get out to fast starts on everybody in their way!
Gordon Hayward getting injured again is awful. He was just coming back into his own. But, the season must progress forward. It's going to take a combination of guys to help pick up the slack for Hayward. But if anybody can do it, it's this Celtics team. Let's see what this team is truly made of, let's ride!
Featured Image via USA Today