Gordon Hayward’s versatility is going to be incredibly valuable for the Boston Celtics
Ever since the Boston Celtics began this rebuild, they have emphasized versatility everywhere. They have gone away from traditional size almost entirely. They want their bigs to be able to shoot and everyone needs to be ready to switch on defense.
The Celtics want to attack a team in as many different ways as possible, and physical versatility continually gives them matchups to exploit on a regular basis. We saw it last year in the playoffs, when the 76ers had J.J Redick and Marco Belinelli defending on the wing against athletes like Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, and they were continually abused.
The Celtics want to make sure everyone is a threat at all times, and physical versatility allows every player to attack in dynamic ways. If you can be that dynamic threat on offense, while also being capable of switching through multiple positions on defense, you will have a massive impact on the Celtics.
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Fortunately, Gordon Hayward has all of that. The Celtics have special physical specimens that are incredibly talented and skilled in Tatum and Brown, but Hayward is coming in as a finished product fitting that same mold.
He may not have quite as much explosiveness or strength, but he has length, he has speed and he will not be pushed around. Brad Stevens will be able to trust Hayward to stay in front of some of the strongest guards, while defending opposing fours.
Hayward will be playing a different kind of defense, but he has all the physical tools and Stevens will figure out how to use them a effectively as possible. Hayward has been a trusted defender throughout his career, and he fit in perfectly with the kind of defenders the Celtics have been looking for.
On offense, he should be the most versatile threat this season. He may not have the crazy highlight dunks of Brown, the efficiency of Tatum or the backbreaking play making of Irving, but he can be a threat in more situations than anyone else.
Hayward will cause the most matchup problems for opposing defenses, and he will make sure the Celtics are a nightmare to defend any time he is on the court. Hayward has always been a three level scorer, and he is a capable passer.
In fact, his offensive approach is exactly what they need. He is a score first player. He is always looking to get himself in a position to score, but he does not force it. Hayward will have no problem integrating into an offense that depends on ball movement from everyone.
With him, however, you have to think about the space created by Irving being the primary focus, while knowing he can find a way to attack anything that might be left on him.
Hayward will be able to punish anyone that is too slow or too small and he is going to have a team around him making sure he is always going to have an advantage on these defenders.
We still cannot know exactly how Hayward is going to be used, and it could be a long process figuring everything out. What we do know for sure is that Hayward has the kind of two way versatility the Celtics have been dreaming about with all their top prospects, and it will be a special experience seeing him play beside Tatum and Brown.