Gordon Hayward, the Boston Celtics’ prized free-agent acquisition, suffered one of the more gruesome leg injuries in recent memory. Expected to miss the rest of the season, an NBA Finals hopeful will have to try to pick up the pieces without the talented scorer.
Even though the team has started 0-2, the Celtics have reasons for optimism. They also have internal solutions, although those plans may have been fast-tracked given the circumstances. Jaylen Brown and Jason Tatum, two young wings taken with the third-overall pick in successive drafts, will need to fill much of the scoring load.
Brown endured a ho-hum rookie season, but he has played well beyond his years in Hayward’s absence. In two games, the high-flying Brown has totaled 21.5 PPG and 5.5 RPG, including a team-high 25 points in the season-opening loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Meanwhile, Tatum will need to make an immediate impact for the Celtics to remain relevant in the Eastern Conference. He has had a strong showing thus far, and the addition of Marcus Morris, who remains out with injury, should only help Tatum’s development.
While Brown has the requisite NBA experience, a veteran team should not look to a rookie forward to pick up all of the slack. That’s where Brown comes into the fold. He will play a much larger role than anticipated, which could help his development over the long haul.
Kyrie Irving and Al Horford–All-Stars in their own right–must also pick up the scoring. Brown knows that defenses are going to focus on those two players, though. “I know teams are keying and building up schemes for (Irving and Al Horford)," Brown told MassLive. "So it's about me being aggressive, Jayson being aggressive, (and) it’s going to help us all be able to score."
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