Gordon Hayward suffered an absolutely gruesome injury in his first game with the Boston Celtics last year, and the rehab process was a long one. Despite being ready to play at the start of this season, it's clear that Hayward isn't quite back to being the player he was in Utah

The ​Celtics have underperformed so far this season, and Hayward was eventually moved to a bench role as part of an effort by Brad Stevens to turn things around. And so far, the team has benefited.

​​Hayward is a veteran who can contribute on both ends of the floor, and definitely has the ability to find a groove with the second unit, which permits him to be a facilitator as well as a scorer. In the starting lineup, Hayward and Jaylen Brown haven't mesh well together given their similar roles, so opting to go bigger out of the gate with Aron Baynes has helped matters.

​Hayward won't be a sixth man forever, nor should he be. But the Celtics need to find some consistent ways to score points, and until the All-Star wing is back to 100 percent, they just can't afford to force the issue.

The Celtics have fallen far short of the expectations set out for them before the ​season started, but there are plenty of games left to play. If Hayward can continue to help lead the second unit and put the Celtics in the position to get buckets and win more games, things will keep looking up in Boston.