Pelicans coach Willie Green seems to envision an expanded role for third-year center Jaxson Hayes.
“I think Jaxson is going to be huge for us this season,” Green said, according to Christian Clark of NOLA.com.
Hayes has been in and out of the Pelicans’ rotation the past two seasons, showcasing rare athleticism for a big man, but questionable decision making. Clark notes that Hayes added muscle over the offseason, bulking up to 235 pounds from his listed weight of 220 last season. He’s also been working on his jump shot, and Clark says teammate Nickeil Alexander-Walker has taken notice.
“It’s amazing how fast he is and how fast he gets up and down the floor,” Alexander-Walker said of Hayes. “Athletic. Shooting the ball really well. Added that to his game.”
Clark adds that in an effort to put his legal troubles behind him, Hayes has been spending more time with family. His father, Jonathan, an ex-NFL player and coach, has temporarily moved in with Jaxson to provide stability and guidance.
Here’s more on the Pelicans:
- Alexander-Walker has matured his game in multiple ways this offseason, writes William Guillory of The Athletic in an excellent interview feature. Alexander-Walker says he’s changed his mental approach to cope with the ups and downs of life in the NBA: “You have to take everything and break it down. You’ve got to take it day-by-day. I got in trouble when I was trying to fast-forward my way through the process. It’s easy to get caught in that tornado, and you don’t know where it’s going to take you. But I had to learn about staying in the moment. Not getting caught up in anything that’s not about where are we right now. Beating yourself up over a bad shooting night isn’t how you get better. It’s about staying consistent in your process regardless of what comes at you.“
- Likely starting center Jonas Valanciunas has looked engaged thus far in the preseason, Clark writes in another piece. Clark notes the Pelicans lacked a mean streak and veteran leadership last season, and believes Valanciunas could help fill that void.
- Guillory explored the team’s depth chart battles in another recent article. He believes that a supersized starting lineup of Alexander-Walker, Trey Murphy, Brandon Ingram, Zion Williamson, and Valanciunas could be the team’s best bet for a combination of offense and defense, but thinks that offseason addition Devonte’ Graham will ultimately start alongside Alexander-Walker. He also thinks that Kira Lewis should have the upper hand over Tomas Satoransky for backup point guard duty, although admits that it could change from game to game. Hayes suffered a sprained ankle on Monday, according to Guillory, who believes that if Hayes is unavailable for the regular season opener, rookie Herb Jones will act as backup center due to his strong defensive play.