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Gordon Hayward has taken on Dennis Johnson-like role with Celtics

Let me start by stating that Gordon Hayward was not brought to Boston to be the Celtics' savior. Nor was Dennis Johnson in 1983. They were both signed by the Celtics to make the team better, not to be the main focus. Let me compare Dennis' average stats over two Championship seasons in Boston (1984, 1986) with Gordon's numbers from this season.

Dennis: 14.4 PPG, 5.0 RPG, 5.0 APG, 1.3 SPG

Gordon: 16.2 PPG, 5.9 RPG, 4.4 APG, 0.8 SPG

Not a lot of difference, is there? Surprisingly, DJ's stats in his stint with the Seattle Supersonics were also very similar to what he produced with the Celtics, even in his Championship 1978-79 season in Seattle when he was named Finals MVP. And Gordon's numbers in Boston are very close to those he put up in Utah. The point is that Johnson and Hayward took the route of modifying their games to fit the vital team concept, in Boston and their previous venues.


DJ took a back seat to Larry Bird, Kevin McHale and Robert Parish. But Bird called him the best teammate he ever played with. Dennis supplied a lot of stability to those Celtics teams, and Hayward does the same. My guess is that he wants to win - wants to be needed - and he wants to fit in. But as I watch games, there are times when he appears to try too hard to make things right, at least in his mind. With the surge of the Jay Team, his scoring has taken a hit, dropping from 20.3 PPG in November to 12.7 PPG in December, while playing roughly the same minutes.

In Hayward's All-Star 2016-17 season (Utah), he averaged 21.9 points/game on 47% from the field, 40% on treys and 84% from the free throw line. And he could do that again this season if needed. Injuries have once again hampered Gordon's play this year, but a healthy Hayward is capable of All-Star caliber performance, even this season. But the way Kemba Walker, Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown are putting up points, I doubt he will have to do that. But the calls for Danny Ainge to trade him need to stop - unless there stands a large possibility that Hayward will opt out of his deal with Boston for next season. For now, this is where he belongs.

Follow Tom at @CelticsSentinel, @CausewayStreet and Facebook






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