What future for Jaxson Hayes with the New Orleans Pelicans?

Drafted in 2019 by the Pelicans, Jaxson Hayes has not (yet) established himself as an essential player in the franchise. After a rather successful Playoffs, he is entering a pivotal year for his career, during which he will have to progress if he wants to stay in New Orleans.

Jaxson Hayes finds it difficult to detach himself from his image of a physical monster, very tall and yet very mobile, capable of soaring to incredible heights, but whose qualities… are limited to this aspect. It must be said that for an athlete of this kind, we could expect more at the statistical level. Four rebounds per game, even for a back-up pivot, is very little, especially when you peak at 2.11 m. These limits are probably what prevents Jaxson Hayes from claiming a starting position at position 5, or at least more playing time than the average 17.7 minutes since the start of his career. It’s simple, each season he is relegated to playing the role of a different player’s substitute: Derrick Favors for his rookie season, Steven Adams the following year, Jonas Valančiūnas in 2021-22, and presumably this season too.

The progression of Jaxson Hayes is interesting, but we cannot say that it is dazzling: his first two seasons are in all respects similar, the third is a little better, with 2 points in 3 minutes more per match. And this despite his extra-sporting problems, including his trial on several counts from which he emerged with probation, community service and compulsory courses on domestic violence. An episode that does not seem to have affected him particularly on the floor, because we obviously do not know what is going on in his head. At the high point of the last regular season? A series of rather interesting Playoffs for him against the Suns, not necessarily from a statistical point of view, but on what he brought in terms of protection of the circle and transition game in attack.

All this is rather a good sign, but it will be necessary to really progress for Jaxson Hayes. This New Orleans team is in a phase of rapid progression, after having completely turned its season around to qualify for the Playoffs in extremis. The Pelicans are increasingly ambitious, especially with the return of Zion Williamson, and Hayes will have to keep pace. It is obviously a necessity for his team, who will want to rely on all their forces to reach a Top 6 in the West, perhaps less utopian than it seems, but it is above all a necessity for him. and his career. In 2023, the franchise will be able to offer him a qualifying offer and therefore keep him one more year before he becomes a free agent.. And for the moment it is not guaranteed, far from it, that his GM Trajan Langdon wishes to exercise this option for a rather unreliable player on the floors and unstable outside.

Jaxson Hayes will therefore have to show that he is not just a machine to receive lobs, but that he can bring more either in defense or in attack. Offensive level, he must pass a course, take on more responsibilities, shoot more than five times per game, in short. But that may not be possible on a team where the big scorers get away with it: Brandon Ingram, CJ McCollum and therefore Zion probably won’t leave much more than crumbs for their teammates. So Jaxson Hayes must progress in defense to make himself, if not essential, at least very useful. Because his main competitor in the rotation at post 5 is a guy who takes more rebounds and defends better than him. Willy Hernangomez, no need to hide from reading this name it is only the brother, could also come and play the spoilsport in the ambitions of his teammate.

Jaxson Hayes is therefore entering perhaps the most important season of his career. To progress, he will be able to count on the veterans of the roster, and in particular CJ McCollum and Larry Nance Jr., whose ability he recently praised to guide him on or off the floor tonight. So much the better because Jaxson Hayes will need to be guided, on the floor or off … if he wants to stay in New Orleans.



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