Watch: Gordon Hayward shows significant progress as he starts dunking again after injury

Boston Celtics vs. Cleveland Cavaliers

Gordon Hayward will almost literally be like a new signing for the Boston Celtics next season after he suffered a horrific leg injury just five minutes into his debut last year. 

After signing a four-year, $128 million deal with the franchise in free agency last summer, his campaign ended quickly with the career-threatening setback. 

But the good news is Hayward is close to making a full recovery as he's undergone intense rehab over the last 10 months. 

He's expected to be cleared for full basketball activities this month and recent clips of the small forward working out show that he's close to full health. 

Making strides

A few weeks ago, Hayward posted a video on social media where he was moving freely around the court and knocking down three-point shots. 

He has now advanced even further by making the most significant step in his recovery. 

The latest clip showed the 28-year-old dunking for the first time since his gruesome injury back in October. 

He showed a real quickness to dribble to the basket and get up for a two-handed throwdown. 

It wasn't the most thunderous dunk you'll ever see but considering the state he was in when he was stretchered off in Cleveland, this is an impressive sight. 

It will certainly raise the excitement levels of Celtics fans as he could have a major impact on their championship pursuit next season. 

Although there were faint hopes that he would return for the playoffs last year, Boston was always unlikely to risk him as he was on a strict programme. 

The All-Star has been making steady progress since undergoing surgery and is now entering the final stages before taking to the court with his teammates again. 

Washington Wizards v Boston Celtics

Mental aspect

Hayward should be close to 100 percent for the start of training camp next month.

He will be in great shape physically but he'll still need time to overcome the mental hurdle that he'll face when he steps out on the floor again. 

But if he's able to get back to his best and play at a high level again, his presence will make the C's a formidable force in the Eastern Conference. 

Charlotte Hornets v Boston Celtics

Hayward was forced to watch from afar as his young teammates reached the conference finals but were unable to dethrone LeBron James and the Cavs. 

The former Utah Jazz star averaged 21.9 points, 5.4 rebounds and 3.5 assists two years ago in his final season with the Salt Lake City outfit.

If Boston gets anything close to this production out of him in the upcoming campaign, they'll be serious contenders to win their first title since 2008.

CLICK HERE to listen to Episode Two of the new GiveMeSport NBA podcast, featuring New York Times senior writer Marc Stein. Subscribe for all future episodes.

News Now - Sport News