By Ty Anderson, 985TheSportsHub.com
It's been almost 11 months since Gordon Hayward's season-changing fall in Cleveland.
Ruled out for the season just five minutes into his Boston Celtics career, the road back to full basketball activities after his dislocated ankle and fractured tibia has been long and winding for the 28-year-old wing. Hayward admits that he still hasn't watched the video of his ankle bending the complete wrong way, and he doesn't plan on it.
But now, with the C's just weeks away from training camp, Hayward has admitted that he's almost back to full health.
"I would say I'm basically 100 percent," Hayward, speaking at the C's new training facility in Brighton, said Thursday. "There's certain things that I think are going to take time; Even if I was 100 percent healthy, I'm not 100 percent as far as basketball-wise, just because I haven't played in a year. I'm trying to figure those things out.
"The last step for me as far as from a physical standpoint is a little explosion, that little last juice bounce that you get. So that's going to take me the longest time. But like I said, for the most part, I feel very good."
One of the Celtics' missing pieces from their run to the Eastern Conference Finals last season, Hayward has been honest about the excitement that's come with seeing the Celtics' young stars shine on the biggest stage, and the promise that can come with his return to a Celtic lineup still featuring fellow established stars such as Kyrie Irving and Al Horford.
"It's so much fun being able to play again, and play with my teammates," Hayward, who joined the Celtics on a max contract after spending the first seven years of his career with the Jazz, said. "Using these past two weeks, and the next month or so, will be good to kind of get back into the game, feel the rhythm, the timing, different things like that. But it feels pretty good."
And Hayward is not shying away from preseason play, either, essentially noting that it's the only way he'll get back in rhythm with his teammates (something he was not able to do last season) and conditioned for regular-season action.
"100 percent I expect to be out there," Hayward said of playing on Opening Night against the Sixers. "This is what this time is for me... to kind of find my groove a little bit. You can do all the drills you want, all the cardio, the jumping, agility stuff.
"But there's nothing like playing five-on-five, so when I play out here with my teammates, when we get into practice situations, that's going to be the best; Playing in the preseason games, that will be the best work I can get."