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Celtics’ Enes Kanter claims Gordon Hayward is 100% back, will ‘shock the world’ this season

Enes Kanter, Gordon Hayward, Celtics

Boston Celtics big man Enes Kanter vouched for the full health of new teammate Gordon Hayward, who made his return to the court last season looking like a shell of his former self.

Hayward played in 72 games last season after missing all but five minutes of the 2017-18 campaign after landing awkwardly during an alley-oop play and suffering a serious injury to his tibia and his ankle, forcing him out for the remainder of the season.

The 6-foot-8 forward averaged 11.5 points last season, nearly half of the 21.9 points he averaged in a 2016-17 All-Star season before he joined the Celtics in free agency. Hayward looked to be back during a few games of the season, only to be unable to replicate the performances through the course of a week, partly due to a shifting role that brought him from the starting lineup to the bench, then back to starting when the need arose.

However, Kanter feels the star forward is back to being the caliber of player that earned him a four-year, $128 million contract with the team.

Per Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe:

“He’s 100% back… he’s gonna shock the world this year,” said Kanter, who’s never been shy of grand offseason proclamations.

The Celtics would very much like that to be true after losing a big-time scorer in Kyrie Irving and a jack-of-all-trades in veteran Al Horford this offseason. If Hayward can sniff the 20-point mark this season, it would put a Kemba Walker-led team back in contention for the Eastern Conference crown, despite hesitation from pundits who feel Boston’s window might be narrowing.