3 Thunder players that need to improve ahead of postseason

Oklahoma City Thunder v Brooklyn Nets
Oklahoma City Thunder v Brooklyn Nets / Jamie Squire/GettyImages
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Gordon Hayward

It may be a bit harsh to say that Hayward must improve for the playoffs as he is still adjusting to a new basketball environment, but it is important that he continues to trend in the right direction. The forward was added to provide a veteran presence on a very young team, but also help with bench depth and provide Shai Gilgeous-Alexander with some relief on scoring duties.

Since transitioning to Oklahoma City, he's averaged just 3.5 points per game, shooting 35 percent from the field. He's only played 156 total minutes in a Thunder jersey, and playing alongside an MVP candidate scorer can be tough to adjust to.

Hayward has been in many playoff series over his career, and the Thunder are hoping he will bring guidance, leadership, composure and experience in the huddle and on the bench and scoring, effort and reassurance on the court.

For Hayward to really cement himself as a major part of the rotation for the playoffs, he just needs to keep things simple. Take the right shots, including catch-and-shoots and one dribble pull-ups, and make the right reads. The reassurance of a veteran who's been there before can settle down the other four players on the court at the time.

There are multiple reasons why Thunder fans should be hopeful and excited that Hayward will improve and carve out a bigger role. The most obvious one is the organization believes in him. The front office traded multiple pieces to acquire him at the deadline, so there is faith in his ability.

He has also been involved on the Thunder bench and in the now infamous group post-game interviews. His leadership and experience partners perfectly with the flare and hunger the young team has to compete.