"Watching the guys previous year just gave me a lot of confidence in our team and what I think we have the ability to do", he said. He spent the entirety of last season rehabbing and recovering from the gruesome injury - a process he called "the most hard thing [he's] done".
"The hardest part of the whole process has been the mental challenge", Hayward said Thursday, reporting that he is 100 percent healthy and preparing to be on the court for the October 16 opener against the Philadelphia 76ers.
"It's so much fun being able to play again, and play with my teammates", he added. "These past two weeks and the next month or so will be good to get back into the game, feel the rhythm, the timing, different things like that". "It was the most hard thing I've done".
Jeff Goodman of WatchStadium.com reports (via Twitter) that Hayward told the media he fully expects to be playing on opening night without any restrictions.
"The last step for me, as far as from a physical standpoint, is just the little explosion, that little last juice [and] bounce that you get", he said. "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". Like many of his teammates, he expressed no concerns about starting versus coming off the bench.
"Very anxious", Hayward said. "We're anxious about winning and putting another banner up". But considering the situation Irving is now in with the Celtics, where he's surrounded by much more talent, Boston has to be considered the favorite to retain him. "My goal is to help us get that banner".
Hayward played seven seasons in Utah before signing a four-year, $128 million contract with Boston in July 2017.