Gordon Hayward trade gets worse for Thunder every game

The Thunder’s trade for Gordon Hayward has not worked out.

Oklahoma City Thunder, Gordon Hayward
Oklahoma City Thunder, Gordon Hayward / Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports

The Oklahoma City Thunder have made a massive leap this season. They are still one of the youngest teams in the NBA, but it has not stopped them. Oklahoma City was two games under .500 last season and knocked out in the Play-In Tournament. Now, they have won 52 games and are fighting for the number one seed in the Western Conference over the final days of the regular season.

The Thunder look like title contenders. They lack the necessary experience, but Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is in the MVP conversation. Jalen Williams and Chet Holmgren are future stars who improve every game. Sam Presti and his front office are building something special with several young talents they have no interest in giving up.

The Thunder are loaded with draft capital and could be in title contention for the next decade-plus. It is all about making the right moves. Oklahoma City upgraded their roster by trading for Gordon Hayward before the deadline. It cost them Tre Mann, Vasilije Micic, Davis Bertans, and two second-round picks. It was a small price to pay for the former All-Star, but it has turned into a disaster.

Oklahoma City Thunder shoot air ball on Gordon Hayward trade

Presti and the Thunder ignored their needs to acquire Hayward. They struggle against physical teams and lack size inside. Oklahoma City is 27th in rebounds and their second-tallest starter is Josh Giddey at 6’8. They need a backup center but decided to add a more versatile option. If Giddey’s shooting becomes problematic, Oklahoma City wanted a 6’7 wing to turn, but they have no answers after Hayward’s recent play.

Since joining the Thunder, the 34-year-old is averaging 4.6 points, 2.4 rebounds, and 1.7 assists in 16.6 minutes per game over 21 contests. He is shooting a career-worst 40.7 percent from the field, but the advanced metrics make things much worse.

The Thunder have a 6.6 net rating for the season, which is third in the NBA. The bottom ten teams are negative in this category, but just the Hornets are minus ten or more. With Hayward on the floor, OKC has a negative-10.1 net rating in 367 minutes. In his last nine contests, they have been outscored in his playing time seven times, including five where they are minus nine or more.

The 6’7 wing has a negative value over replacement player (VORP) for the season and appears to be declining. Thunder head coach Mark Daigneault is struggling to keep him on the floor. Fans are waiting for Hayward to turn a corner, but his play continues to get worse. He did not score against the Celtics on Wednesday night, and the Thunder lost his minutes by 28 points. Everyone hoped Hayward would have some extra juice against his former team, but it was not meant to be.

The Oklahoma City Thunder have to improve their roster this summer. They have arrived as title challengers and need the finishing pieces to make a serious run. Their next trade must go better than this Gordon Hayward deal. The 34-year-old is an unrestricted free agent this summer. It will be interesting to see how his market develops and if he can get on track in the postseason. Stay tuned because things are just heating up in OKC.