The Eastern Conference Finals were a tad anticlimactic this past NBA season. The Cleveland Cavaliers beat the Boston Celtics in five games, winning Games 1, 2, 4, and 5 by an average of 25.8 points. Still, the Celtics won 53 games last season and finished with the best record in the East.
Don’t be surprised if they do that again, especially after signing Gordon Hayward to a four-year contract.
“I think Gordon Hayward is probably worth seven wins. I think they’re a 60-win team with Gordon Hayward,” The Vertical’s Chris Mannix said on CBS Sports Radio’s Reiter Than You. “Jae Crowder is a very good player, and with that contract, he’s a great player for them, but they weren’t getting consistent offense from Jae Crowder. He had his nights. He had his moments. But consistently knocking down the three-point shot, that just wasn’t Jae Crowder’s thing. Gordon Hayward shot close to 40 percent from three last year, and I think he’s going to be an ideal fit in what Brad Stevens is trying to do.”
Boston acquired Hayward, an All-Star who averaged 21.9 points per game last season, without giving up any assets. That’s the beauty of being a free-agent destination.
“(If you’re the Celtics), I think you’re ecstatic,” Mannix said. “You get the guy that you targeted all along. Boston, for as much as they wanted Paul George, as much as they would have liked to have acquired Jimmy Butler, Gordon Hayward has been their top priority. They believe that for how they played, he was an ideal fit. They think he’s going to be able to play multiple positions. They think he’s going to be able to score from all over the floor. They think they can even increase his developments. They think they can extract an even better player out of Gordon Hayward over the next couple of years as they put him in different positions with this team.”
Signing Hayward was pivotal for Boston, which is seeking its first Finals appearance since 2010.
“It’s been a bit of a ragged offseason,” Mannix said. “The Markelle Fultz trade was criticized in some corners. They weren’t able to get a deal in place with Indiana. But acquiring Gordon Hayward, for Boston, salvages everything.”