Depending on your religious affiliation, or lack thereof, recognition of any higher being(s) may or may not be a sensitive topic. When you are a sports fan, however, you know that all fans alike must recognize, succumb to, and worship the Gods of each, for without proper respect comes justifiable consequences—or something like that.
Anyway, what I am trying to say is that the Basketball Gods’ work in very mysterious ways. They give, they take, and always find a way to leave you wishing for more. Regardless of what happens though, all we can do as fans is believe that it did so for a reason. Just last week, I wrote a piece excitedly focused on the steady up-rise of ten-year NBA veteran, Gordon Hayward. Hayward, in his tenth season in the league, and now third season with the Boston Celtics, was playing some of his career best basketball over the first nine games of the 2019–20 season. Two years removed from the broken leg that saw him miss the entirety of his first season in Boston, Hayward was finally back to looking like the All-Star level player that he was in Utah before the Celtics signed him to his current max contract. I prompted Boston fans, assured them that the excitement was real—that if Hayward was to keep up as he has thus far, the Celtics could be legitimate. Now back to how the basketball Gods work … maybe I spoke too soon. Just a couple of days after I submitted said article, in a game that saw the Celtics defeat the San Antonio Spurs 135–115, Hayward suffered a fractured left hand as result of a collision with Spurs forward LaMarcus Aldridge, and ultimately had to leave the game as his team went onto secure the win. That night, however, the question was whether or not the win was worth it. In an alternate universe, would I myself rather see Hayward avoid an injury at the cost of the team’s overall success? While praying to the basketball Gods, I contemplated such a question, and came to the determination that I would not, and that in the end, this injury is going to serve as much the greater benefit to the whole team, than it will as a hindrance. This, like everything else that happens under the basketball God’s reigns, happened for a reason, and a good one at that.
Hayward’s MRI confirmed the break in his left hand, and he has now already had surgery to repair it. This surgery is set to keep him sidelined from the action for at least the next six weeks, which means that, in being hopeful, we should see his full return somewhere between mid-late December. This, as unfortunate and potentially heartbreaking as it could be, is something I see as a potential God send for Boston. Currently ranked #1 in the NBA power rankings, the Celtics have been on an absolute roll through the first eighth of the season, losing their first game to the 76ers and having yet to drop another since. The team sits atop all others with a league best 9–1 record, and do not look to be slowing down anytime soon. In the first game without Hayward on the floor, the Celtics defeated the Dallas Mavericks and their dynamic duo of Kristaps Porzingis and perennial superstar Luka Doncic, 116–106. The team played a beautifully well-rounded game, and gave an insight into how exactly they will be developing and strengthening themselves in the coming weeks.
It’s pretty simple, actually—in Hayward’s absence, everybody else is going to be given just that much more room to grow themselves. Kemba Walker, Jayson Tatum, and freshly signed Jaylen Brown, are going to make up the core of the team’s offense going forward, and as of now, are roughly averaging 25, 20, and 20 PPG respectively. The likelihood is high that all three of these players’ averages, while maybe not drastically, will shoot up in the wake of the star small forward. Hayward, until his injury, was not far behind in averaging just under 19 PPG himself, which should pose great promise to Celtics fans everywhere. Having at least three players, and hopefully upon return, four, averaging at least 20 PPG, is not really something any low-tier, illegitimate team could claim, and the plus-side to Hayward’s injury, is that it’s not one expected to impose a great, if any of a setback on his body. His conditioning should even be improved upon his return, as he has but no excuse to improve on everything, from his game to his body, so long as he leaves his left hand alone. I trust in you, Basketball Gods, and not just because I need to, but because I truly believe this injury will ultimately turn out a blessing in disguise.