Five minutes into his Boston Celtics debut, Gordon Hayward suffered a frightening lower leg injury. An offseason of anticipation was washed away with one moment as Hayward missed the rest of the 2017-18 season. When faced with the devastating injury, Hayward didn’t pout. Rather, he put in the hours rehabbing and found himself back on the court for the 2018-19 season.
The effort Hayward put into his rehab process paid off. Even though he didn’t receive his typical workload and his statistical averages took a dip as he worked his way back to full strength, Hayward was a critical piece of the 2018-19 Boston Celtics.
His hard work to get back on the hardwood didn’t go unnoticed. The NBA Players Association awarded Hayward its Comeback Player of the Year Award on Tuesday. Hayward’s hard work and on-court play was noticed by his peers, as the award was voted on entirely by other NBA players.
In his first year since the injury, Hayward played 72 games, averaged 11.5 points per game and posted the highest two-point field-goal percentage of his career. With the Celtics taking on a new look for the 2019-20 season with Kemba Walker added into the mix, Hayward could see an increased role as his health continues to improve.
When playing 30 minutes or more since the start of the 2019 calendar year, Hayward averaged an impressive 15.7 points per game. He posted a career-best assist-to-turnover ratio of 2.32 and recorded the second-best true shooting percentage in the NBA after the All-Star Break.
The nine-year NBA veteran is well underway in his preparation for a strong campaign next season. According to head coach Brad Stevens, Hayward has spent almost the entire offseason in Boston working on his game.
“He started a little bit earlier than he does normally, and he’s been going early in the mornings,” Stevens told media prior to a summer league game. “You better be an early riser to catch him walking out the door, let alone in it. He gets up there and gets his work done.”
With his health back, his on-court form returning, and his new NBPA award on his mantle, Hayward looks to post an impressive second year back from his injury.