As free agency kicked off, we didn’t see nearly as many scheduled “Woj Bomb’s” as we figured, but Gordon Hayward signing a four-year, $120M deal with the Charlotte Hornets falls into that category. Boston is not matching the deal, so Hayward is going to be a member of Michael Jordan’s Hornets for the next four seasons. He joins a starting lineup consisting of first-round draft pick LaMelo Ball, Terry Rozier , Miles Bridges and Cody Zeller . To make way for Hayward, the Hornets waived Nicolas Batum .
Although people are really scratching their head when assessing this signing, there is reason for hope that Hayward will return to form before his major knee injury that forced him to miss the entire 2017-’18 campaign. That said, how many people realized he averaged 17.5 points, 6.7 rebounds and 4.1 assists per game on 50-percent from the floor and 38.3-percent from three-point range. He averaged 20 FP/game in standard category leagues on ESPN last year, which was 48th amongst all players, higher than the likes of De’Aaron Fox, C.J. McCollum and teammates Jaylen Brown and Kemba Walker .
He averaged those 20 FP as the fourth offensive option and coming to Charlotte, he’ll likely be the guy with the ball in his hands the most, battling it out with Rozier, Ball and Devonte’ Graham. We’ve seen Hayward stuff the box score for a large part of his career and even have a season in which he averaged over 20 PPG (21.7 PPG in ‘16-’17) so we know he’s more than capable of doing that on an offense with limited options.
Devonte’ Graham led Charlotte in scoring at 18.5 PPG last season, which is a nice number to project Hayward at. The three-point shooting last year was a vast improvement for Hayward which bodes well for his catch-and-shoot prospects receiving passes from Graham who averaged 7.5 APG. Hayward could realistically be a top-40 fantasy option in Charlotte this year considering there aren’t nearly as many cooks in the kitchen as there were in Boston.
Moving onto the Boston side, things open up A LOT with Hayward gone. Hayward, as mentioned previously, is someone who handles the ball a lot and averaged 4.1 APG. With him gone, it’ll put more offensive responsabilites on the “big three” of Kemba Walker , Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown . We know the trajectory of Jayson Tatum ’s rise to superstardom has already taken place, but removing Hayward -- a guy with similar attributes -- clears up even more space to operate. Brown’s fantasy value was highly dependent on his scoring and defensive numbers, but look for him to be more of a playmaker, filling the void Hayward has left. We could potentially see each of those guys become top-50 fantasy assets and possible ascent even higher. If ranking them, it’s Tatum, Brown and Walker in that order.