It's going to take some time for Gordon Hayward to shake off the rust that comes with missing all but five minutes of last season. However, as far as his body and overall health are concerned, the Boston Celtics forward is all the way back.
"I would say I'm basically 100 percent," Hayward said at the Celtics' new training facility Thursday, according to ESPN's Chris Forsberg. "There's certain things that I think are going to take time - even if I was 100 percent healthy, I'm not 100 percent as far as basketball-wise, just because I haven't played in a year."
It was during the opening moments of the 2017-18 season opener against the Cleveland Cavaliers when Hayward fractured his tibia and dislocated his ankle after landing awkwardly off a botched alley-oop attempt. He was ruled out for the remainder of the campaign following successful surgery last October, although he did go under the knife again in May to remove the plate and screws which were implanted in his leg.
Thursday marked the first time that Hayward has partaken in five-on-five drills with his Celtics teammates since the catastrophic injury.
"It's so much fun being able to play again, and play with my teammates," he added. "Using these past two weeks, and the next month or so, will be good to kind of get back into the game, feel the rhythm, the timing, different things like that. But it feels pretty good."
Hayward admitted that he hasn't watched footage of his injury, as he wants to leave that moment in the past. He expects to be in uniform for Boston's full preseason schedule, as well as opening night against the Philadelphia 76ers on Oct. 16.
"Yeah, 100 percent I expect to be out there [on opening night]," said Hayward. "This is what this time is for me - to kind of find my groove a little bit.
"Like I said, you can do all the drills you want, all the cardio, the jumping [and] agility stuff. But there's nothing like playing five-on-five, so when I play out here with my teammates, when we get into practice situations, that's going to be the best - playing in the preseason games, that will be the best work I can get."