Gordon Hayward is supposed to return to the Boston Celtics this season after missing all but five minutes of last season with a broken ankle. The former Utah Jazz star is expected to be a major part of this offense as the number two scoring option on the court.

Hayward appeared in three of the team’s four preseason games, playing 59 minutes and scoring just 21 points. He shot .250 from the floor, and .100 from deep. Now, reports have surfaced that he is dealing with a back issue, some “minor” pain in his back.

As much as some Celtics fans want to downplay this, this is an important issue that is concerning. Come on, John, you guys must be saying. You’ve been saying it’s just the preseason! Just relax!

While the stats don’t cause my concern, they help prove my concerns are legitimate. Here is why I am concerned about Gordon Hayward’s back injury, and why you should be too.

Gordon Hayward’s ankle injury

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I’m certainly not trying to sound like a broken record, but this ankle injury Hayward suffered last season was absolutely brutal. Not only was his ankle broken, the muscles were twisted, snapped and contorted. Gordon Hayward didn’t walk for two months after the injury.

When an individual suffers an injury to that extent, they have to learn to walk again. Hayward had to retrain himself to walk, run, jump and shoot a basketball. The injury forced him to restart his career, and that’s the reality of the situation.

Confidence is critical

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Confidence is indeed very crucial. It’s hard for a player to perform at the same level he did before when he is worried about how one of his legs will hold up. It’s not out of the ordinary to say that Gordon is worried about his ankle. You see him when he takes a shot. He doesn’t go up and command the shot like we are used to seeing him do. He looks timid and frightened.

If my ankle had busted the way it did less than a year ago, I would be too! Don’t think I am ragging the man, it’s natural to feel that way. However, the reality of this is that he won’t be a star if his confidence isn’t there. He will end up being an odd man out that Boston is overpaying.

He needs to feel comfortable on his ankle and have some confidence in it holding up before he can return to top form. I can almost promise you that his ankle doesn’t feel like he remembers. That’s because it is different, it’s completely rebuilt.

How does the back pain factor in?

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Ah, yes. The back pain.

Have you ever played basketball for a few hours without stopping? If you have, you probably remember that it was fun until you drove home, plopped down on the couch and watched a movie or read a book, then tried to stand back up. Your legs become very sore. In your ankles probably, your calves for sure. Your legs might somewhat resemble jello.

Did your back ever hurt?

When players suffer back pain, there’s normally a reason for it. Maybe he fell on his back during a practice or a game and needs to get his spine realigned a little. Maybe he pulled a muscle and was just sore.

Or maybe something is wrong with his ankle.

Doctors perform these type of surgeries all of the time. However, you don’t really know how well the procedure went until it’s over and the patient is walking. Did something go wrong? Is his ankle not feeling right?

Any foot issues that an individual deals with usually affects the individual’s back. If someone is experiencing back pain, a doctor normally prescribes foot inserts for their feet. The way we walk, stand, run, jump and move on our feet impact the health of our back.

If something isn’t right in his ankle, it would explain why he is experiencing back pain.

Final Thoughts

I’m not saying that this speculation is fact, it could just be that Gordon Hayward has pulled a back muscle or maybe he just fell victim to a bad fall on his back in practice. I think people trying to downplay this as nothing aren’t looking into the situation enough. We all want Hayward to be healthy. So far, he has been everything but with the Celtics.

Teams like to downplay injuries all of the time, and it very well could be what the Celtics are doing. I am concerned, and you should be too.