Gordon Hayward is closing in on full strength, and that’s big news for Celtics fans looking forward to the upcoming 2018-19 season.
After suffering a devastating left ankle injury in last season’s opener, the All-Star forward has been doing everything in his power to rehab and following a brief setback that forced surgery to remove the metal plate from his ankle, he returned to the practice court this month and is continuing to grow closer each day to being back at full strength.
The proof is in the pudding, and G-Time recently posted some encouraging video of his workouts, providing a glimpse of his progress to fans hoping to see him back to his normal self when the new NBA season rolls around this fall.
Gordon never lost his excitement and hunger for the game, instead using it as fuel in his recovery. Now his body is finally catching up to his mind as he’s getting healthy and ready for a new season.
No. 20 still has more work to do in his rehab process, but his workouts have intensified over the last few weeks, as the start of training camp draws closer. Recently, Gordon has been able to complete linear sprints and come to a full stop without any pain, another great step in his recovery.
G-Time plans to be at full speed, playing 5-on-5 drills in August, the last step before getting on the court for real with his teammates in September. Most importantly, he is finally starting to feel like himself again, playing basketball pain-free.
“I’ll be ready to go for sure,” Hayward said. “Since I’ve had my second surgery, I’ve been feeling a lot better. My ankle has reacted a lot better to different drills, strength movements and different things I’ve done on it, so the next step is go live and play against other people. Instead of just doing rehearse drills, I’m doing reactive drills. It’s doing a lot better.”
Last season was admittedly tough for Gordon to watch as his new team took the floor each night without him and—for much of the season—point guard Kyrie Irving, the Celtics’ other key 2017-18 addition.
“[Kyrie and I] texted, we watched the games sitting right next to each other on the sideline,” Hayward said. “It’s one of the hardest things I believe you can do as an athlete: be injured and having to watch your team play; especially for me, because I chose to leave [the Jazz] and come play for the Celtics, then only to watch the Celtics play all year. It was extremely difficult.”
But with Gordon and Irving both back next season healthy—joining Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Terry Rozier, Marcus Smart, and Al Horford—the Celtics appear on their way to competing for a title this postseason. For Gordon, the approach to next season feels similar to last year, with he and Irving joining their youthful, talented teammates who are coming off of an Eastern Conference Finals appearance.
“I feel like we’re in like a time warp to about a year ago,” Hayward said. “The team went back to the Eastern Conference Finals. I’m joining the team. I get a chance to play with Kyrie [Irving] and the young talent. I’m still just as excited.”