Boston Celtics: Paul George vs. Gordon Hayward, which is the better fit?

Mar 20, 2017; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indiana Pacers forward Paul George (13) greets Utah Jazz forward Gordon Hayward (20) after the irgame at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Indiana defeated Utah 107-100. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 20, 2017; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indiana Pacers forward Paul George (13) greets Utah Jazz forward Gordon Hayward (20) after the irgame at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Indiana defeated Utah 107-100. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports /

Getting two superstars is clearly the best route, but if the Boston Celtics fail to get both Paul George and Gordon Hayward, acquiring one will still make drastic improvements.

With ample cap space, the Boston Celtics can land both Paul George and Gordon Hayward this summer. It is unlikely and the Celtics need the planets and their surrounding moons to align for this happen, but it is still possible nonetheless. George will need to be obtained through trade, while the Hayward can simply be signed in free agency. “Simply” is a bit of an understatement, but you get the idea.

Unfortunately for George, the Pacers are asking for a chunk of the Celtics’ core and a piece of their future in return. To be specific, one starter and two draft picks. If the Celtics take the bait on George, they land a top 12 player that adds a different level of consistent scoring. The only drawback is the possible expense.

Giving up players like Jae Crowder, Avery Bradley or Marcus Smart will cause an overhaul on the dynamic of the team. Adding George means he will be the focal point of the offense rather than ball movement and spacing. It is a rash assumption to think George automatically makes this team better, even though he will undoubtedly add necessary scoring and wing defense. How well this team would play together is still up for debate.

For Hayward, the changes would only be slightly less dramatic. The Celtics will not have to give up high-quality players in a trade, but it does chip away at their depth. It is a minor change, but Hayward does not have as large of an impact on the game compared to George. Hayward is a solid scorer and all-around playmaker, but he does not excel in any one aspect.

He is formidable across the board, which is both good and bad. Good because it minimizes weaknesses, but bad because it he cannot take control of the game like other superstars, including his potential teammate Isaiah Thomas. Hayward is needed to be a game-changer, but this is not his role. He is a quiet scorer and he excels in offenses that have good spacing (much like the Celtics, we should add).

If it comes down to choosing one, which is a better fit to wear the prominent green and white?

Smooth Operator

Paul George is undoubtedly the better player. He’s a prolific shooter while also being a threat on defense. He did air ball his last clutch opportunity in a Pacers jersey, but he keeps his composure in late-game situations. Other than that, the only real knock against George is his recent outburst against the team that, technically, is still signing his paychecks.

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Openly talking bad about your teammates will leave a foul taste in the mouths of front offices looking to build a winning roster. Chemistry is a key concept and down talking teammates is the opposite of good team chemistry.

PG-13 is a professional athlete that wants to win and it wasn’t happening in Indiana. He wanted out and any person looking to advance their careers should be able to empathize. It could have been handled better, but regardless, George is one-of-a-kind talent is hard to pass up.

His ability to generate offense on his own, combined with his ability to defend a player like LeBron James makes him an irresistible target. Yes, Paul George defended LeBron James and was effective. He was overpowered like everyone else in the league, but his hand speed and instinctual style of defense helped minimize the size advantage. All in all, George has somehow stepped up his defense and it was showcased multiple times this season. Even against “Playoff LeBron.”

The clip is only one game, but he was consistent the entire series. The Celtics need a scorer that can get shots off whenever they want and is willing to take most of the offensive workload. George fits that role.

Mr. Traditional

Hayward is like George when looking at stat lines, but that’s really it. When the playoffs rolled around, Hayward took a backseat to Joe Johnson. The hype around Hayward is still real, but his impact on the game will continue to be medial compared to other superstars. He can score 20-25 points on a consistent basis, but it is dependent on getting good looks and capitalizing on those opportunities.

One of the biggest knocks against Hayward is his inability to carry an offense and isolation defense. Asking a player to “carry” a team is a hefty responsibility, but he will be a primary scorer on a team with larger playoff aspirations if he signs with the Celtics. He thrived with a slower paced Jazz team, but changing to a fast-paced team could lessen his impact.

However, the Celtics like to pass and find open shooters. Adding Hayward supports that style. Hayward makes the extra pass, regardless of whether it will directly lead to an assist. He drives with tenacity and has a strong pull-up jumper in his arsenal, but his vision is what sets him apart. They aren’t flashy passes, just necessary passes. He keeps the ball moving while involving his teammates, but Boston will want a more distinct offensive effort from him.

Whether the Celtics decide he is a right fit will not come down to the court, but more toward the mental aspect of the game.

Making a decision

If only one is available, the Celtics should go with Paul George and not think twice about it, even though they’d have to sacrifice more assets to do so. Hayward may fit the style, but Paul George fits the mentality.

The Celtics are a rugged team that is not afraid to get chippy. George has a relentless attitude and the skill to back it up. He will take hits on defense and give it right back the next possession. The Celtics will finally have consistent offensive threat that is taller than 5’9″.

Hayward will absolutely fit as a Celtic, but the impact would not be nearly as great. He would add scoring and space, but not be enough to knock of the Cavaliers, and not nearly enough to put up a legitimate fight against the Warriors. If the Celtics are forced to choose, they should choose Paul George. But if signing Hayward is the path taken, he will be in an ideal situation with his former head coach.

Next: 5 potential landing spots for Gordon Hayward in free agency

All in all, neither player will hurt the Celtics. Signing either one will be majorly beneficial to the team and Boston’s necessity for scoring. Landing both is still the best-case scenario, but in a world of indecisiveness, George has the better chance of helping the Celtics advance in the playoffs.