Kyrie Irving: Gordon Hayward Passing Too Much, Needs to Be More AggressiveNovember 29, 2018
As Gordon Hayward and the Boston Celtics have struggled to find their groove out of the gates, Kyrie Irving believes his All-Star teammate needs to be more aggressive.
Irving told Brian Robb of BostonSportsJournal.com on Thursday:
"Honestly, I think that he's passing a little too much for Gordon's potential and his talent. I think, coming up in the next few games, he'll be able to show some different things that he's been on for the start of the season. Just being more aggressive offensively and looking for his shot more. We had practice yesterday and I told him, 'Look for your shot more. Get aggressive and get yourself going because you are a great talent in this league and I don't want you to ever forget that.' Of course, he does a great job of coming off the pick-and-roll and making those passes, but I want him to be aggressive and score the basketball for us as well because we are going to need it down the stretch."
To Irving's point, Hayward has made 630 passes this season compared to taking 170 shots, according to NBA.com. In comparison, Celtics forward Jayson Tatum has made 614 passes with 276 shot attempts.
It's been a tough start to the season for Hayward. The 6'8", 225-pound forward is shooting just 40 percent from the floor and 29.2 percent from beyond the arc, both of which would be career lows over the course of a full season. At the same time, he has averaged just 8.9 shots per game, his lowest rate since 2011-12, his second year in the league.
He is averaging 10.1 points in 19 games in 2018-19.
Of course, Hayward is still trying to find his game while also attempting to fit in with the team. This is technically his second year in Boston, but he missed essentially all of last season after suffering a gruesome leg injury on opening night. The Celtics wound up making it to within one game of the NBA Finals without Hayward (and Irving, who underwent knee surgery in April).
Now, Boston has had to try to work Hayward and Irving into the mix. Things have not gone so smoothly early on, as the team is just 11-10 on the season.
The Celtics signed Hayward to a max contract during the summer of 2017 because of his ability to shoot the basketball. He was coming off a career year in which he averaged 21.9 points on 47.1 percent shooting, including 39.8 percent from three-point range. That's the Hayward Boston will need in order to make a run at a championship this season.
There is still plenty of time for both Hayward and the Celtics to figure things out, given the 82-game grind is barely a quarter of the way through. For now, Hayward's first opportunity to follow Irving's advice will be on Friday, when Boston hosts the 4-16 Cleveland Cavaliers.