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.
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.
Last 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.
The 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?
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).
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.