Yesterday, reports were flurrying around the NBA that the Celtics are the biggest threat to the Clippers to sign Blake Griffin in free agency, according to Adrian Wojnarowski. Given these rumors and others about the possibility of Gordon Hayward also coming to Boston, this begs the question of if you had to choose one, who would you rather take? Let’s look at what each guy brings to the table:
Gordon Hayward, SG/SF
Last season, Gordon Hayward averaged 21.9 PPG, 5.4 RPG, and 3.5 APG while shooting 47% from the field and close to 40% from three. He has increased his PPG in each of the six years he has been in the NBA, which is an obvious sign of improvement. He also has a pretty good track record of being able to stay on the court, only missing 17 games in the last three seasons.
It’s obvious that he would not be a fix to the Celtics main problem (rebounding). But Hayward could take a ton of the scoring pressure off of IT’s shoulders. It would also give the front office the option to trade Jae Crowder to acquire a rebounder, or even bring him in off the bench. I would rather a trade because I want to see more minutes open up for Jaylen Brown, but I wouldn’t hate Crowder in a 6th man role. I think it would suit him much better.
Blake Griffin, PF
Griffin averaged 21.6 PPG, 8.1 RPG, and 4.9 APG on 49% shooting from the field and 33% from three last year. Looking at his career numbers, Griffin checks off the boxes when it comes to rebounding, but that’s if he can stay on the court. His last three seasons have been plagued with injuries, only playing in 163 out of 246 games. That would be a lot of money to invest in a guy who hasn’t been able to stay healthy as of late. Should the Celtics take that kind of risk?
If he were to stay healthy, there’s no doubt he would have a very positive impact on this team offensively. His ability to score (like Hayward) would help take a ton of the load off of IT’s shoulders. Recently, he has added the ability to knock down mid-rangers at a high rate, something he wasn’t doing much of in the beginning of his career. This Celtics offense requires most of its big men to be able to shoot, and that’s a role Griffin can play for the most part. I also wouldn’t hate to see the Celtics throwing up some more lobs next season, something Griffin is very well known for being on the receiving end of.
So who would I rather have? The answer is Gordon Hayward. He is just a better fit in my eyes. All year I’ve been saying that the Celtics are an elite wing scorer and elite rebounder away from being able to contend with the Cavs. Hayward could be that guy on the wing. He has also shown that he can stay on the court, which recently, Griffin hasn’t been able to do. Hayward’s familiarity with Brad Stevens’ system gives him another notch ahead of Griffin for me as well.
Blake Griffin’s ability to somewhat stretch the floor is something the C’s don’t really need given Al Horford is on this team. I’m not trying to say that he isn’t a good stretch big, but he really isn’t much better than Horford. Another problem I have with him outside of that and the injuries is that he isn’t much of a defensive presence, which is something else the Celtics are desperately lacking down low. For a guy who is a 6-10 power forward, he’s only averaging 0.6 BPG over his career. If they’re going to acquire a big man this off-season, I want him to bring a defensive presence down low. That is something that Griffin just doesn’t bring to the table. One more thing that bothers me might be one of the more overlooked things in this whole situation, and that is that we haven’t seen Griffin play without somebody who is very good at creating for others (CP3). If he comes to Boston, he’s going to have to create offense for himself a lot more than he did in LA. How confident are we that he can do that consistently? We already know how well Hayward can create for himself, so I don’t have worry about him in that aspect.
The bottom line is this: both players would definitely help the Celtics, but to me, Hayward would help more.
Written By: Nick Cherico (@NickCherico2)