Celtics Sign Gordon Hayward – Impact on 2018 Odds

gordon-hayward-isaiah-thomasThe Boston Celtics set their sights on Gordon Hayward ever since the 2017 offseason began. And their efforts proved fruitful as they landed the former Utah Jazz forward.

Hayward gives this club another star besides point guard Isaiah Thomas. And the 6’8″ forward better positions this team to get past the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 2018 Playoffs.

But just how good are Boston’s chances of making the NBA Finals with Hayward? Find out as we cover what he’ll do for the Celtics 2018 odds.

Hayward is the Perfect Fit

Paul George, another Boston offseason target, also could’ve made the Celtics much better. But there are questions of how another ball-dominant player would’ve fit in with Thomas.

hayward-boston-oddsBoston doesn’t need to worry about answering these questions now because Hayward will make a seamless transition to this team.

The 6-year veteran can be a playmaker, spot-up shooter, driver, decoy…basically, whatever Boston needs. Just as important as his offensive versatility is Hayward’s defensive prowess. He can guard multiple positions, defend the pick and roll, and has length (7-foot wingspan).

Hayward is somebody who’s improved every year in the league. Last season, he averaged a career-high 21.9 PPG, 5.4 RPG, and shot 39.8% from the 3-point line. With good shooting, great defense, and playmaking ability, Hayward is the total package for Boston.

The Celtics are Even Deeper

Thanks to their trade robbery of the Brooklyn Nets a few years ago, the Celtics just keep getting better and better.

jaylen-brown-celticsLast summer, they added forward Jaylen Brown with the third-overall pick. And Brown showed flashes of a great player as his playing time increased during the season.

This year, the Celtics picked up Duke small forward Jayson Tatum. Yet another versatile forward, Tatum has the potential to be the best offensive player in the draft.

Now, add these players to a lineup that already includes Al Horford, Jae Crowder, Avery Bradley, Hayward, and Marcus Smart. This possibly makes for the league’s best defensive team, and one of the deepest too.

Hayward is a Proven Winner

The Celtics know how to win since they finished first in the Eastern Conference with a 53-29 record. And now, they add another winner to their roster.

Hayward was the center of Utah’s rebuild, as the team showed the following improvement over the past four seasons: 25 wins, 38 wins, 40 wins, 51 wins.

It’s possible that the Jazz would’ve experienced another increase in 2018. But Hayward saw a better opportunity by joining the East’s top regular-season team. Now, he has a clearer path to the Finals that doesn’t include the Golden State Warriors, Houston Rockets, Oklahoma City Thunder, and San Antonio Spurs.

Danny Ainge Avoids Losing in the 2017 Offseason

On a side note, Boston GM Danny Ainge avoids the scrutiny that he’s been facing over not landing a major free agent this summer. After all, Ainge is sitting on a pile of draft picks over the next few years, and people want to see him turn these picks into proven players.

celtics-aingeThe Celtics could’ve gotten Jimmy Butler for the third-overall selection. They also failed to trade for George, although he’s expressed his desire to sign with the LA Lakers next summer.

If Ainge had also failed to sign Hayward, it would’ve really put a damper on this offseason. But now, Boston has a prized free agent and looks to be a much stronger team moving forward.

Hayward Gives Boston a Height Upgrade

Hayward’s height will certainly help this undersized team. The four Boston players who log the most minutes include PG Thomas (5’9″), SG Bradley (6’2″), SF Crowder (6’6″), and C Al Horford (6’9″).

Even in the small-ball era, this is small. But when you throw Hayward in Crowder’s spot – or alongside him – he gives Boston more height and length. Assuming Brown plays heavier minutes, this will give Boston yet one more sizable wing.

What will Boston do with Jae Crowder?

jae-crowder-celticsCrowder is an invaluable part of the Celtics’ core. But Hayward plays the same position as Crowder and is an upgrade.

This leaves Boston with the following three options moving forward:

  • Put Crowder at power forward, which puts him at a disadvantage against bigger lineups.
  • Bring him off the bench.
  • Trade him.

The latter scenario is the most viable. The 5-year veteran is highly coveted for his defense and three-point shooting (39.8%). Plus, Boston has Brown and Tatum on the roster, who’ll both need time to develop.

The Celtics would do best to trade Crowder while he still has maximum value. After all, his numbers will dwindle when he’s coming off the bench.

Does Hayward Give Boston a Chance to Beat Cleveland?

Currently, we have the Celtics at +1000 odds of winning the 2018 NBA championship. This is tied for third best with the San Antonio Spurs, and behind both the Cleveland Cavaliers (+350) and Warriors (-220).

gordon-hayward-jazzThe Cavs are the important one here because they dismantled Boston in the Eastern Conference Finals last year. However, adding Hayward gives them a legitimate chance to beat Cleveland.

But barring any major Cleveland injuries, we still don’t see Boston getting by them. The biggest problem is that Hayward plays the same position as one of Boston’s top-4 players. And while Hayward is an upgrade over Crowder, he doesn’t significantly improve their team from last year.

But with rumors about LeBron James bolting Cleveland after this season, Boston is poised to rule the East. They also look like a team that’ll contend for the title very soon too.

4 Possible Reasons why Celtics Traded No. 1 Pick to Philly

celtics-aingeThe 2017 NBA Draft is still a few days away. But we’ve already seen one bombshell move go down: the Boston Celtics trading the No. 1 overall pick to the Philadelphia 76ers.

It’s been speculated that Boston would shop their pick since they have the capability to win now. And this trade, which nets the Celtics the No. 3 overall pick along with the Lakers’ 2018 first-round pick, proves the rumors true.

While Boston added more high picks to their arsenal, they could’ve also held pat and drafted Washington point guard Markelle Fultz, who’s good enough to be the consensus top selection.

Now, the question is why Boston decided to pass on this opportunity to move down in the draft and pick up another (potentially) high selection next year. Let’s look at four reasons why below.

No. 1: To Draft Josh Jackson

josh-jackson-kansasKansas wing Josh Jackson has been linked to everybody from the Celtics at No. 1 to the Phoenix Suns at No. 4. CBS Sports claims that Josh Jackson is GM Danny Ainge’s guy, thanks to his length and defensive ability. And it’s very possible that the Celtics traded down because they think Jackson will be available at the third spot.

Assuming this is true and they get Jackson, Boston pulled off a great move. Instead of just taking him with the top pick, they grab an additional asset – something that many teams would’ve given the Celtics to draft Fultz.

The downside to this move is that L.A. could still take Jackson at No. 2. In this event, Boston would be in a bind, deciding whether to take point guards Lonzo Ball or De’Aaron Fox, or go with Duke forward Jayson Tatum. One more option includes trading down again, although Ainge enters unfamiliar territory the further he goes down in the draft.

No. 2: To Trade for a Superstar (i.e. Jimmy Butler or Paul George)

jimmy-butler-celticsThe Celtics have long been linked to Chicago Bulls guard Jimmy Butler. They’re also interested in Indiana Pacers forward Paul George, another player that could help them compete with the Cavaliers.

By picking up LA’s 2018 selection to go along with this year’s No. 3 pick, they have more assets to trade. Packaged with Brooklyn’s 2018 pick, this presents an awfully enticing treasure trove for interested teams. And let’s not forget that Boston has a first-round pick coming from Memphis in the future.

Ainge has done an excellent job of grabbing assets. But when does it come time to finally cash in on them and become an elite contender?

That time will be now if he trades draft picks for a superstar. Both Chicago and Indiana would be surrendering their chances of winning by trading their top players. And they’ll want high draft picks in return. Boston has this – the question is whom they want to make the move for.

Odds are that they’ll go for Butler first because he’s under contract for a few more seasons. George, on the other hand, is a free agent next season and has eyes on the Lakers in 2018.

By giving up Fultz now, Ainge also gives up the chance to add another superstar to the core. It only makes sense if he’s figuring out how to turn these picks into another All-Star.

No. 3: Because Celtics Only Need Isaiah Thomas at Point

markelle-fultz-phillyOne of the biggest discussions leading up to the 2017 Draft is if Fultz and Celtics star Isaiah Thomas could share the court. After all, both are point guards by nature, and it’s likely that they’d play a lot together.

Another floated theory was that Boston would use Fultz at point if they decided not to give Thomas a max contract next offseason.

We don’t have to worry about these scenarios now, though, because there’s no way that Fultz will slide to No. 3. Going further, it seems more and more likely that Ainge is prepared to pay Thomas whatever he asks for.

isaiah-thomas-celticsThis seems like a good move too because the 5’9″ guard has proven himself again and again. He not only led the Celtics to an East-leading 53 wins last season, but also averaged 28.9 PPG and 5.9 APG. Earning the nickname “King of the Fourth,” Thomas has proven that he can deliver in the clutch.

Boston could be one established player away from becoming a bonafide contender – something they don’t look to be now after being beaten by Cleveland 4-1 in the Eastern Conference Finals.

Fultz wouldn’t be the player they needed for another 2-3 seasons….and that’s before we get into him playing the same position as their top scorer.

No. 4: To Wait Until the Cavs are Done Dominating the East

iguodala-lebron-jamesCleveland proved little match for Golden State in the NBA Finals. But they also proved to be heads above the East, ripping through the first three rounds with a 12-1 record.

By trading down, Boston could be waiting out King James’ reign in Cleveland. This allows them to take a really good prospect in 2017, another one in 2018 (in addition to Brooklyn’s pick), and/or use the Kings’ 2019 selection to add more talent.

To clarify, Boston gets the Lakers’ 2018 pick if it’s between No. 2-5. If not, Philadelphia keeps the selection, and the Celtics acquire Sacramento’s 2019 unprotected pick instead.

Either way, Boston is in an enviable position where they can stay competitive now while continuing to add young players who’ll help in the future. By the time the draft picks mature in the early-to-mid 2020s, Boston is set to take over the East because LeBron will be in his late 30s.

What’s more is that the Warriors might finally lose their grip on the league by then. As it looks now, Golden State is poised to win 4 titles over the next 5 seasons – as Klay Thompson’s dad, Mychal, declared. And this isn’t just some LaVar Ball-sized prediction – it actually looks to be accurate right now.

Why should the Celtics work so hard to become a contender now if this is the case?

Danny Ainge has proven to be an unpredictably good GM so far. And we may have no idea what he’ll truly do with his draft pick(s) until June 22.