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Six Overseas Draft Picks Who Could Contribute in NBA

David Pick looks at six NBA draft picks who are overseas and whether they could join the NBA soon.

David Pick

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Contrary to what some fans may believe, there is competitive basketball being played outside of the NBA. The mere fact that a bunch of NBA rotation-caliber players have tested the overseas waters in China and Europe proves this to be true.

In an era when the roster for the NBA champion San Antonio Spurs features nine non-U.S. born players, foreign talent is becoming highly coveted. Which begs the question, who are the next overseas prospects who will make the jump to the NBA?

Basketball Insiders has decided to focus on six former NBA draftees whose rights are owned by teams across the league, looking at whether these prospects could contribute in the league now and whether they should receive a call-up to the NBA in the near future.

Vasilije Micic – Point Guard – NBA rights owners: Philadelphia 76ers

Slide1Micic

He’s no Ricky Rubio but this 20-year-old Serbian floor general was mentioned during the latest NBA Draft as, “one of the best passers in this draft,” according to scout guru Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress.

Micic was selected late in the second-round at No. 52 and stayed overseas, signing to play for German power-club Bayern Munich. After four consecutive seasons with prospect-development club Mega Vizura in his native country of Serbia, Micic averaged 11.8 points per game, ranked third in the league in assists with 5.8 dimes and second in steals with 1.7 per game. He also contributed three rebounds per outing.

During the offseason, Micic made the jump to the Euroleague competition, registering 4.7 points and 3.3 dimes in about 15 minutes per game over three appearances off the bench.

He’s a skilled passer and superb ball handler. His size, 6-foot-6 with a 6-foot-7 wingspan, allows him to view the court from all angles. Micic is a classy pick-and-roll playmaker who stood out at the 2014 Adidas EuroCamp. The 76ers aren’t competing for anything right now and are just focused on developing their young players, so it would make sense for Philly to give their draftee a shot in the league during this rebuilding phase.

But the question remains – being slow on his feet and far from athletically gifted, who is Micic going to guard in the NBA? How consistent is his shooting? Although Micic shoots 42 percent from the perimeter in the German League, he has struggled in the Euroleague and hasn’t made a three-pointer yet.

 

Alex Abrines – Shooting Guard – NBA rights owners: Oklahoma City Thunder

Slide4Abrines

The former 2013 second-round pick by Oklahoma City continues his draft-and-stash development overseas as a phenomenal perimeter shooter. At 21 years of age, Abrines is entering his second season with Spanish ACB champions Barcelona. Only this time, he is seeing significant floor time.

One of the top international prospects in the 2013 class, Abrines is on fire from beyond the arc, shooting almost 70 percent in Espana and 53 percent in the Euroleague through 10 games.

Abrines’ season highlights thus far include firing a perfect five-for-five from distance versus Italian powerhouse Armani Milan, scoring 21 points in 23 minutes. Beyond his ability to torch opponents, Abrines is extremely smart, confident and capable of playing above the rim.

His skinny frame and sub-par handles could cause him to struggle in the NBA and become a victim for low-post bullies. Also, Abrines can jump, but he’s not an elite class athlete. Why bring him over to OKC? He’s proven to be a legit force in Europe, and the Thunder could use another shooter on their roster along with Anthony Morrow and Jeremy Lamb.

 

Davis Bertans – Small Forward – NBA rights owners: San Antonio Spurs

Slide5Bertans

Aside from the fact that this Latvian kid almost has an awesome forename, Bertans has the ability to become a legit sharp-shooting small forward in the NBA.

Bertans’ shooting mechanics are excellent and he owns an ultra-quick release to his stroke. The 2011 draftee is a pure shooter who can knock down shots running off screens or creating off the dribble (even though the latter element is still a work in progress).

Bertans improved his passing game and dished out a number of eye-opening dimes this season. Yet, he’s still averaging just one-or-fewer assist per game. The 22-year-old Euroleague veteran signed a long-term deal with Spanish club Laboral Vitoria this offseason, and is playing significant minutes in the Spanish ACB — the toughest league in Europe.

Bertans’ coach is Italian tactician Marco Crespi, who once served as director for international scouting for the Boston Celtics and the Phoenix Suns. Bertans is shooting 100 percent from the free throw line and over 40 percent from beyond the arc this season. His range is probably the deepest in Europe since Mirza Teletovic left for the NBA.

He’s ranked 11th in the Euroleague in three-pointers made and seventh among the Top 10 ACB scorers with 14 points per game, just 2.3 points shy of No. 1.

Despite standing 6-foot-10, Bertans isn’t considered an elite rebounder, grabbing a total of 3.5 boards per game this season. His feet-movement is slow and figure is slim, though he’s added a few pounds of muscle. Bertans isn’t a brilliant athlete, but has some bounce and could defend the small forward position. He’s by no means an NBA stretch four-man. Bertans also has a history of knee injuries.

He’s a player who can spread the floor, and could end being a contributor for San Antonio down the road.

 

Dario Saric – Power/Small Forward – NBA rights owners: Philadelphia 76ers

Slide2Saric

“One hundred percent, I will come to the NBA in two years (2016).” It wasn’t clear if Dario Saric meant what he said ahead of hearing his name called with the No. 12 pick overall in the recent NBA Draft.

It sounded ever more fishy when his father, Predrag Saric, voiced his opinion over a pair of Dario’s DNP-CDs: “We’re thinking about leaving (Turkish club) Anadolu Efes.”

Had Dario committed to playing in the NBA when drafted, he’d probably be a top-five selection.

Nonetheless, after dominating in the Adriatic League last season, Saric’s transition to the Euroleague action has been shaky. It’s something he said was bound to happen. Following a bumpy start to the season where he took a backseat to former NBA center Nenad Krstic – who has since gone down with an injury – Saric had his Euroleague coming-out-party last week with 18 points on 7-for-10 shooting from within the arc, six boards, two assists and two steals in 22 minutes.

Once a stud for Cibona Zagreb in his native land of Croatia, Saric is adapting to life off the bench in Turkey. Although he’s just 20 years old, Saric can handle the rock, has good court-vision and shoots from all over the floor. He is a versatile forward with a great feel for the game and has sharp instincts. Saric is an energy bomb waiting to explode.

His liabilities include being a streak shooter – as he has attempted just nine shots from the perimeter over 124 minutes this season and made just two. Saric also falls between the cracks on the defensive end.

As previously stated, Philadelphia is developing their young core so bringing over Saric makes sense since he could be a key player for them moving forward. When Saric is able to enter the NBA, he’s a virtual lock to be in race for Rookie of the Year.

 

Nikola Jokic – Center – NBA rights owners: Denver Nuggets

Slide3Jokic

 

Serbian center Nikola Jokic, who at 19 years old is the youngest kid on this list, could make an impact in the league right because he’s straight up dominating overseas.

Jokic, the 41st overall pick in the latest draft, has taken over prospect-development club Mega Vizura and has been messing around these last couple of weeks with a pair of MVP performances.

In his Adriatic League season debut, Jokic led his club to a nail-biting, 103-98, win over MZT Skopje, registering 27 points (8-for-12 from the field, 5-for-5 from the line) and 15 rebounds. Worth MVP honors, right?

On November 3, he recorded 17 points, 12 rebounds and season-high eight assists during a 90–84 triumph over Zadar. Jokic, again, was named MVP of the week. By the way, in between, he also has a 19-point, 13-rebound game against Cibona Zagreb.

However, with Denver’s roster flooded with bodies in the paint – Kenneth Faried, J.J. Hickson, Timofey Mozgov and Jusuf Nurkic – Jokic would be left with spotty minutes if he were with the Nuggets this season. Thus, an additional two-to-three years in Europe would help strengthen his NBA rookie status down the line.

According to sources, officials for Real Madrid are closely monitoring Jokic’s progress in Serbia, as their club’s general manager flew out to witness the kid’s recent MVP outing. Another source claims there’s a strong possibility Jokic lands an offseason deal next summer with reigning Espana champions Barcelona.

Jokic has shown great development this season, along with an arsenal of offensive moves from pick-and-pop (37 percent from the perimeter this season) to nifty passes to creative finishing around the rim. His limitations include his athleticism, ability to defend quicker big and below-average shot blocking. (Video interview from NIKE Hoops Summit)

 

Bogdan Bogdanovic – Shooting Guard – NBA rights owners: Phoenix Suns

Slide6Bogdanovic

One of Europe’s high-volume scoring guards, Bogdan Bogdanovic opted to remain abroad for two more years before testing NBA waters. Was this a good idea? It doesn’t appear so, but time will tell.

Check out the resume of this 22-year-old Serbian: four-time Serbian League Champion, two-time Serbian League Cup Winner, two-time Adriatic League ring-holder. Bogdanovic wasn’t a role player on these teams. Last season, he emerged as “the man” with the right to jack up shots – good or bad – at will, shooting his way to the 2014 Serbian League Final MVP and Euroleague Rising Star honors.

Now that we’ve established that this kid can shoot, Bogdanovic is capable of playing anywhere on the perimeter from point guard to shooting guard to small forward. He’s a clutch shooter with an advanced feel for the game, though he could get wild at times.

Bogdanovic is locked in to a long-term four-year deal in Turkey, but can opt-out after his second season. Could he help the Suns now? He’s inexperienced and not explosive, and he hasn’t proven he could bring it on a bigger stage with Fenerbahce, but all-in-all he’s a versatile athletic wing who can handle, pass and shoot from anywhere on the floor. He’ll fit in perfectly when he does join the team.

His 2014 FIBA World Cup campaign was brilliant, earning a silver medal for the Serbian national-team, averaging 12 points, 2.4 rebounds and 2.8 assists, while shooting 47 percent from the field. Bogdanovic currently leads his team in three-point percentage with 40 percent from distance in the Turkish TBL competition, yet his numbers have dropped now that he’s backcourt buds with former Lakers guard Andrew Goudelock and reigning Euroleague champion Ricky Hickman.

David Pick has extensively covered European basketball and American players abroad since 2010. His work can be found at Eurobasket.com and ONE.co.il. Follow him on Twitter @iamdpick

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NBA All-Star Friday Recap

Basketball Insiders recaps NBA All-Star Friday 2019, which featured a four-point shot and a deep pool of talent in the Rising Stars Challenge.

Matt John

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NBA All-Star Celebrity Game

The NBA All-Star Celebrity Game had a variety of big names to trot out on Friday night. This list included former NBA players such as Ray Allen and Jay Williams, current WNBA players Stefanie Dolson and A’ja Wilson, entertainers such as JB Smoove, Mike Colter, and Hassan Minhaj, and last year’s MVP, Quavo.

The Home Team was coached by WNBA legend Dawn Staley while the Away Team was coached by WNBA superstar Sue Bird.

Team Staley pulled ahead multiple times throughout the game, but every run they made was followed by a run by Team Bird. Team Bird’s comeback attempt fell short as Team Staley ultimately won 82-80.

Internet Comedian Famous Los led the way for Team Staley, scoring a team-high 22 points on 10-16 shooting while dishing out three assists in the team’s victory. Jay Williams razzled and dazzled as well, scoring 18 points on 8-15 shooting while dishing out five assists – including this beauty.

What could have been with Jay Williams…

Quavo topped his performance last year for Team Staley, scoring a game-high 27 points in total, highlighted by what may very well be the only five-point play to ever happen in an NBA-sponsored basketball game. Quavo shot 13-19 from the field while also corralling nine rebounds as well. Ray Allen also put up a vintage performance, putting up 24 points on 11-21 shooting, nine rebounds and five assists.

There were a few interesting wrinkles to this game. A four-point shot was implemented in which $4,000 would be donated to charity for each shot made from distance. Ten four-pointers were made in the game, totaling $40,000 in charity donations.

Two more fun facts: We didn’t even get a tip-off in this game. Comedian Brad Williams stole the ball from the ref to start it off. Also, just because it’s a harmless exhibition does not mean participants won’t get into it. JB Smoove and Hassan Minhaj got a little testy at the end of the first quarter.

Other participants included:

From Team Bird: Ronnie 2K (Director of influencer marketing, 2K Sports), AJ Buckley (Actor, “SEAL Team”), Bad Bunny (Singer), Marc Lasry (Milwaukee Bucks’ Co-Owner), Adam Ray (Host of About Last Night), Amanda Seales (Actor/Comedian), James Shaw Jr. (Hometown Hero), Brad Williams (Host of About Last Night)

From Team Staley: Chris Daughtry (Singer), Terrence Jenkins (TV Personality/Actor), Dr. Oz (TV Personality), Rapsody (Rapper), Bo Rinehart (Musician), Steve Smith (Former NFL Player), Jason Weissman (Hometown Hero)

MTN DEW ICE Rising Stars

If last year’s Rising Stars game had an overabundance of talent, this one may have very well topped it. That’s how loaded this year’s class was.

Let’s start with what could be a preview for what’s to come next year: Luka Doncic’s performance. More specifically, his connection with Lauri Markaanen. Throughout the first quarter, Doncic found Markaanen everywhere, either for easy alley-oops or wide open threes on the pick and pop.

Why bring this up? Because this is exactly what we could expect to see from Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis when they share the court together, as Markaanen has a similar skill set offensively to Porzingis’.

As for the game itself, Team USA jumped out to a 12-point lead at the half, thanks primarily to the likes of Jayson Tatum (16 points on 6-12 shooting) and Kyle Kuzma (21 points on 10-16 shooting).

Team World wouldn’t go down without a fight. In the third quarter, they managed to cut the deficit down to a point thanks primarily to Doncic and Ben Simmons’  collective efforts, but that was as close as they got. Team USA pulled away in the fourth quarter as they went on to win 161-144.

Simmons led the way for Team World, as he finished with 30 points on 14-17 shooting on a squad where, outside of Simmons, the scoring was pretty well spread out as Doncic, Markaanen, DeAndre Ayton, Bogdan Bogdanovic, Rodney Kurucs, OG Annonuby, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Josh Okogie all had 10 points or more.

Team USA had a few standouts, including Kuzma (35 points on 15-27 shooting), Tatum (30 points on 12-24 shooting), Donovan Mitchell (20 points, nine assists, seven rebounds), and Trae Young (25 points, 10 assists, seven rebounds). All were deserving of the MVP, but the award ultimately went to Kuzma.

Tonight, we go a little deeper into All-Star Weekend with the Dunk Contest, Three-Point Shooting Contest, and the Skills Challenge. Stay tuned!

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NBA Daily: Can Tobias Harris Put the 76ers Over the Top?

Shane Rhodes breaks down whether the addition of Tobias Harris can push the 76ers into the NBA Finals.

Shane Rhodes

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The Philadelphia 76ers made perhaps the biggest move of trade season when they acquired Tobias Harris from the Los Angeles Clippers. Harris, in the midst of a career year, was on the path to a lucrative contract come this summer. But, with an uncertain future in Los Angeles, Philadelphia capitalized and made their move to win now.

In doing so, the 76ers have put together, arguably, the most talented starting roster in the Eastern Conference. But what exactly does Harris bring to the team, and can he put them over the top of their competition in the East?

Harris has very much looked the part of an All-Star this season and has given Brett Brown and the 76ers coaching staff yet another weapon with which to attack defenses. The 26-year-old has posted career highs in points (20.7), rebounds (7.8) and assists (2.8) per game, field goal percentage (49.7) and three-point percentage (43.0) this season and should prove a significant upgrade over Wilson Chandler, who was sent to Los Angeles in the trade, on both offense and defense.

In a superior lineup, his Harris’ play should only improve as well.

His statistical values may dip with the move to Philadelphia, but, in a way, the team may look at that as a positive; with so many talents on the floor together, Brown, in theory, should be able to utilize Harris in order to reduce wear and tear on his other players — namely Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons and Jimmy Butler — and keep them somewhat fresh for the postseason, if not at the expensive of some personal stats.

Harris is another player that can handle the ball and should lead to even more movement within the 76ers offense. He has shown over the years an ability to push the ball up the floor in transition and should relieve some of the pressure from Simmons in that area as well. In the event that he is the lone star on the floor, or should the ball movement stop, Harris able and willing to break out his do-it-himself kit; he may not dance a defender like Kyrie Irving, but he is more than capable of sizing up his man and either hitting a shot in their face or brute-forcing his way to the basket.

Harris is a more-than-capable shooter and, off the ball, should provide Simmons with another reliable perimeter outlet and open things up on the interior open things up inside for him and Embiid as well.

Defensively, Harris isn’t a wizard, but the effort and energy are there and should shine in the already competent 76ers defense. While it may not be ideal in all situations, Harris has the size to bang down low with some centers and the quickness to keep up with smaller players on the perimeter. Harris’ length — a near seven-foot wingspan — should also prove an asset, as he will allow the defense to switch on almost every possession. In the postseason, that could prove invaluable.

As good as this acquisition may look on paper, it isn’t without its cons or risks. Harris’ is another primary option on a team that already had three of them in Embiid, Simmons and Butler; could the presence of too many options bog things down a la the Boston Celtics earlier this season?

His contract situation, alongside the impending free agency of Butler, should give some pause as well.

The team has hedged its future on those two players and given up some good (and some great) assets to acquire them. Should Butler leave, Harris would provide the 76ers with the ultimate insurance policy but, should both players move on after the season it could set the team back years.

The 76ers have plenty of pre-existing issues to figure out as well, a losing record against their chief Eastern Conference competition — Milwaukee Bucks (0-1), Toronto Raptors (1-2) and Celtics (0-3) — most prominent among them.

But, with Harris in the fold, the 76ers seem to have all the pieces of the puzzle. If the players can put it all together, they could very well find themselves in the NBA Finals come June.

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Gordon Hayward Clearing Hurdles, Finding Joy In Comeback From Injury

Spencer Davies sits down with Boston Celtics forward Gordon Hayward to discuss the first half of his season, returning from a devastating injury and the team blocking out the noise.

Spencer Davies

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As his Boston Celtic teammates got some shots up to prepare for a morning practice in Cleveland, Gordon Hayward sat in a chair on the baseline watching.

Quicken Loans Arena held a particular place in his mind. Not because of a championship memory, nor for any individual accomplishment.

But because nearly five months after an emotional return and season debut, Hayward had come back to the scene where the course of his career shifted in an instant.

“It’s something that I was thinking about sitting in the hotel last night,” Hayward told Basketball Insiders before shootaround at The Q. “Like, last time I was here, my whole world changed. I’ll probably think about it, be a little anxious about it at the beginning when I first check in, but then when I get going it’ll be fine.”

If there was any trepidation, it was either short-lived or didn’t show. The 28-year-old looked as confident as ever, packing a powerful punch off the bench as a scorer and a distributor for a depleted Boston team. He finished with 18 points, six rebounds and five assists.

“I didn’t even think about that until this morning,” Celtics head coach Brad Stevens said of Hayward’s return to Cleveland. “I thought about it in the preseason and then for whatever reason, I probably should’ve thought about it.

“I just think he has played enough now where he’s past that initial hurdle, right? So it’s probably not fun to walk out on the court the first time and shoot around and those type of things but ultimately, I think he probably moved past that really quickly. I thought he was great tonight, both ends of the court. I thought his offensive playmaking passing the ball was as good as his scoring.”

Hayward has scored 20 points or more on just three different occasions this year. It’s a far cry from the All-Star numbers he used to put up nightly. He understands, however, that perseverance is necessary as he slowly, but surely gets re-acclimated to playing.

“Physically, I’ve felt pretty good. I think I’m definitely moving way better than I was at the beginning of the season,” Hayward told Basketball Insiders. “I’m getting more and more confident with each month, each week. There’s definitely still games where I just don’t feel like myself, but I think I’m trending in the right direction.”

When asked about those areas that don’t feel right yet Hayward pinpointed attacking the basket, specifically going at big men in the paint, taking contact and finishing.

Knowing that he can go up, get hit and be able to come down fine is a mental hurdle Hayward admittedly still has to clear—and the only way to get past that is repetition.

“You just have to do it, and do it more than one time,” Hayward told Basketball Insiders. “It’s like an experience-type thing. You’ve got to just do it and feel confident doing it, and until that happens, then you’ll just keep thinking about it.”

Once Hayward is driving and dunking on a regular basis without thinking about what happens next, he says he’ll officially be back. Until then, an appreciation of being able to play the game he loves again is the true big picture—especially after an injury that could’ve taken it all away from him.

“That’s been a mental thing as well is trying to find some joy in just the fact that I’m back out on the court,” Hayward told Basketball Insiders. “Because some people don’t return from that and a blessing that we have the technology that we do these days that they were able to fix my ankle. So I guess just being patient with the whole thing, that’s been a challenge.”

CELTICS A WORK IN PROGRESS

Coming into the 2017-18 season, the excitement in Boston was palpable. Hayward signed a four-year maximum contract with the Celtics that summer. Shortly thereafter, Danny Ainge made a blockbuster deal to acquire Kyrie Irving, creating a dynamic duo to begin a new era of C’s basketball.

The Celtics started the campaign on the road against the defending Eastern Conference Champion Cavaliers in October. Since the storyline of the night was Irving facing off against the franchise he had won a championship with on opening night, Hayward’s debut took a bit of a back seat…until the unthinkable happened.

Less than halfway into the first quarter, Irving saw a cutting Hayward with an open path to the rim and threw up a lob looking for an alley-oop finish. Cleveland’s Jae Crowder and LeBron James came to double before Boston’s pair could connect, leaving Hayward afloat in an awkward position.

Hayward came down almost horizontally, with only his left leg there to brace himself for the fall. Tragically, he dislocated his ankle and fractured his tibia simultaneously in one of the most gruesome moments in the history of sports.

As he was consoled by trainers and wheeled away on a stretcher with an air cast, the whole arena was dead silent. Players from both teams were praying in disbelief of what they’d just witnessed. Just like that, Hayward’s season was over, and even perhaps his career.

Following multiple successful surgeries and going through rehabilitation programs over the course of a year, Hayward was able to make a miraculous return to the court on October 16, 2018. He’s been on the floor for 26 minutes per night, playing in 53 of 58 total games.

Just as Hayward has tirelessly ground away to get back to form, so have the Celtics. With a healthy Irving and returning Hayward, along with the group that unexpectedly went seven games into the conference finals last year, they were supposed to be the top dog in the East.

It’s no secret that the Celtics boast an abundance of young talent. Jaylen Brown has shown plenty of growth after a shaky start to the season. Terry Rozier is on track to get paid in the offseason by a team in need of a starting point guard. Jayson Tatum is Boston’s second-best scorer (16.5 points per game) and rebounder (6.3 boards per game) at just 20 years old.

That goes without mentioning rookie center Robert Williams. Daniel Theis and Brad Wanamaker, while not quite as young, are two inexperienced NBA players who have overseas experience. The Celtics’ depth is a quality that is necessary for a deep run in the postseason.

“I think anytime they have an opportunity, they seem to make the most of it. That’s at every position,” Hayward told Basketball Insiders.

At the halfway mark headed into the All-Star break, Boston holds fifth place, locked in a battle with the likes of the Philadelphia 76ers and Indiana Pacers for the three seed. The Milwaukee Bucks and Toronto Raptors each have 43 wins with over five games separating them from the trio of teams behind them.

Despite back-to-back blown leads and losses to both Los Angeles franchises at the TD Garden, the Celtics have won 12 of their last 15 contests.

“I think when we all play with energy and when we’re connected defensively – and offensively, for that matter, but especially on the defensive end – we give ourselves a chance to win the game,” Hayward told Basketball Insiders. “Then, when we are able to move the ball and put together games where we have 30-plus assists, that’s when we’re really tough (to beat).”

TUSSLING WITH THE MEDIA

It hasn’t been all sunshine and rainbows, though. Early in the season, there were many things said by multiple players on the record, including some pointed words from Irving in more than one instance. These comments can be twisted and turned easily.

Add in an example: the day he told reporters, “Ask me July 1,” regarding his free agency plans, it turned into a big mess of speculation. What many people didn’t hear was Irving’s thoughts regarding the media’s spin on what was actually going on.

“This is like college recruitment for me all over again. I don’t know. This is just weird,” Irving said to the scrum of reporters in New York. “It’s a new position to be in answering all these questions, seeing all this stuff that I’m trying to avoid, and it’s just a distraction. It’s crazy how stories and things and storyline can seep into a locker room. You guys are part of the destruction of locker rooms. That’s just what it is….”

Hayward had plenty of his own thoughts on the matter.

“I mean, I think certainly all outside noise has an opportunity to put a wedge between people and between teammates,” Hayward told Basketball Insiders. “I think especially in today’s age where there’s social media and information is right now, all-the-time, like everybody sees what everybody says. There’s guys that are paid to give their opinions on things and, if you read into all that stuff, can definitely put a wedge in between guys.

“More than anything, just talking to people,” Hayward said of the proper remedy. “If you have an issue with somebody, just tell ’em, talk to ’em. But I think for the most part if you block all that stuff out and really just focus on yourself as a group and what the coaching staff is saying and what your teammates are saying, it’s usually better.”

FATHERHOOD IS A BLESSING

We talked about the youth Boston has already, but Hayward isn’t in that same category anymore. While it’s not that he’s old, per se, he is a nine-year man in the NBA.

Hayward considers it “weird” that he’s the veteran now. Yet, at the same time, he doesn’t mind that time has flown by because of the gift of fatherhood. The injury he sustained was absolutely devastating.

But it put things in perspective for him, and no matter what happens from here on out with his career, Hayward will always be grateful for the most important thing in his life—family.

“No doubt. I think no matter what happens on the court, my girls don’t care,” Hayward told Basketball Insiders. “They just care that dad’s home and they want to play hot lava and play picnic and all that stuff. Like having three healthy kids and a wife at home, those things are good.”

If Hayward’s recent play is an indication of what we’re going to see from him moving forward, he might just get the best of both worlds.

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