How Will the Celtics Recover Without Hayward?

Boston Celtics' Gordon Hayward (20) talks to teammate Kemba Walker during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the San Antonio Spurs, Saturday, Nov. 9, 2019, in San Antonio. Boston won 135-115. (AP Photo/Darren Abate)

Earlier this week, Celtics forward Gordon Hayward announced that he plans to leave the NBA bubble due to the birth of his newborn baby. As of now, Hayward expects to miss a significant time away from the Celtics during their playoff run. The playoffs are scheduled to begin on August 30th and the Eastern Conference finals are expected to start on September 15th. Hayward’s absence leaves many unanswered questions for the Celtics. 

The main concern of Hayward’s departure for Boston is the bench. The starting lineup for the C’s would be looking something like this:

Kemba Walker, PG

Marcus Smart, SG

Jaylen Brown, SF

Jayson Tatum, PF

Daniel Theis, C

Although that doesn’t seem to be a bad starting lineup, in fact it is one of the best starting lineups in the league, the Celtics now are in trouble with the bench. Although they have not had a great bench the entire year, it doesn’t help losing the most valuable bench asset in Marcus Smart. 

Celtics’ weak bench

Boston’s bench still does not have much experience. Besides Enes Kanter, Brad Wanamaker, and Grant Williams, who have all seen significant time this year, this leaves a big question mark because now at least one or two players will have to step up for the C’s. Towards the end of the year, we started to see Romeo Langford, Celtics 2019 first-round draft pick, start to see some more time. Also, Robert Williams had just returned to the lineup after a long recovery from injury. One thing to also keep in mind is Celtics’ second-rounder Tremont Waters, who was G League Rookie of the Year, and third in MVP voting may start to see his minutes go up. 

Although the Celtics aren’t as deep as most other teams in the league, they still have assets that have not yet proved themself but can definitely contribute. Between players like Tacko Fall, Romeo Langford, and Javonte Green, they can hopefully expect to see some decent minutes leading up to Hayward’s departure later in the season.

As for Hayward, he hopes he can return to the bubble if the Celtics are still competing in the playoffs. It feels like every single game he is getting back to the player he once was before his horrific injury. The decision was an easy one for him, but he still is sad he has to leave his teammates. It will definitely be interesting to see how Boston bounces back after losing a key player in their starting lineup, but they still have the potential to make a deep run this year in the playoffs. 

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