Gordon Hayward says ‘the reins are off’ and he’s ready to be ‘the player I came here to be’

"That confidence is something that comes with repetition."

Gordon Hayward
Gordon Hayward shooting in the Auerbach Center earlier in 2019. –Nathan Klima for The Boston Globe, File

Even since Gordon Hayward announced he was signing with the Celtics in a 2017 piece for the Players’ Tribune, Boston fans have been waiting to see his talent in full flight.

A gruesome opening-night ankle injury in his first game with the Celtics altered Hayward’s trajectory with the team. He has spent his time since the night of his injury attempting to regain the same form that once made him an All-Star.

In a new post on his personal blog, Hayward recently described his thoughts on the upcoming season, with players set to report to training camp next week.

“I’m really looking forward to getting started with the guys—some returning and some new faces,” Hayward wrote.

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He also offered a glimpse at his offseason work, and why it could prove to be a difference in the new season.

“For me, this summer has been all about building confidence and continuing to do some of the same things that I was so used to doing. I can’t overstate how important it’s been for my mental approach, to have a full summer where I was working out and training the way I need to train. That confidence is something that comes with repetition.”

For the Celtics, who lost Kyrie Irving and Al Horford to other teams in free agency during the offseason, Hayward’s possible return to his pre-injury ability would be a welcomed sight.

Hayward averaged 25.9 minutes and 11.5 points per game in the 2018-2019 season. His 33 percent shooting from 3-point range was one of the lowest marks of his career. Yet the 29-year-old could be on the verge of a comeback, as he alluded to.

“Going into this season, I’ve put in the reps all summer,” Hayward said. “I know my body is still just as good and feels 100 percent, and certainly, I know the guys on the team a lot better now than I did last year too. All the unknowns are gone. That’s the biggest difference.”

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Hayward also added that “the reins are off” in terms of how he’s managed by Celtics coach Brad Stevens.

“I’m ready to be the player I came here to be,” Hayward explained.

Celtics season begins on Oct. 23 in Philadelphia against Horford and the 76ers.