Gordon Hayward Feels ‘A Little Lost’ At Times
Gordon Hayward, who missed all but five minutes of the 2017-18 season after suffering a devastating left ankle injury, is still working to regain his rhythm, and at times, according to the Celtics wingman, "feels a little lost" on the court.
"I think there are times I feel good out there on the court,” Hayward said after practice Thursday. But there are times when the former All-Star feels like he's "just floating out there."
Hayward has struggled this season, shooting just 40 percent from the field. He’s shooting 29 percent from beyond the arc, down from a career average of 36.5 percent.
After Wednesday's practice, teammate Kyrie Irving gave Hayward a vote of confidence, while also encouraging him to be more aggressive on offense.
"We had practice yesterday and I told him, 'Look for your shot more. Get aggressive and get yourself going because you are a great talent in this league and I don't want you to ever forget that,'" Irving said.
Celtics Coach Brad Stevens also expressed confidence in Hayward.
"He was really good in practice yesterday, made a lot of very aggressive plays at the rim, and that's a little bit of a next step. We'll see how that translates. But he's doing everything we could have asked. He's been through a lot. At the end of the day he'll be better in Game 40 than he was in Game 20, and 60 than 40 and so on."
Hayward agrees that he needs to do a better job of getting to the rim and forcing contact, as he averaged six free throws per game during his final three seasons with the Utah Jazz but is averaging just 2.1 this season.
"I think it’s a confidence thing. It’s a confidence of when I go in there, knowing how to create the contact and not being afraid of it. I think it’s something I’ve just got to go do, and not be hesitant when I get in there."
Hayward has been out of the starting lineup since the Celtics win against the Bulls on Nov. 19. It's not the role Hayward imagined when he signed a $128 million max deal with the Celtics in the summer of 2017, but the 28-year-old said it's a sacrifice he's willing to make for the team.
"I obviously want to be a starter,” Hayward said. “I feel like I am a starter in this league. But it’s something [Brad Stevens] wanted to try and I’m going to do whatever I can to help us."