With several stars out of the lineup, Pelicans center Jaxson Hayes has turned into a reliable scorer, writes William Guillory of The Athletic. Hayes posted his fifth straight double-digit performance Friday night and tied his career high with 19 points.
Hayes’ role has expanded without Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram around to handle most of the offense, Guillory notes. Instead of relying on pick-and-rolls and passes near the basket, Hayes has shown an ability to hit floaters and push shots in the lane.
“He runs great, a great pick-and-roll guy to the rim, great on the offensive glass, high energy and he can finish around the basket,” coach Stan Van Gundy said. “He’s been active defensively. Those are the things he needs to keep doing. I think people make a mistake thinking the way to get better is to always expand your game. I’m not saying it’s bad, but if you get away from what you do really, really well, then you start to lose what makes you a really good player. Sometimes you want to expand people’s game. Sometimes you want to narrow it down.”
There’s more from New Orleans:
- Among the things that went wrong for the Pelicans this season was a disappointing performance from the starting backcourt, claims Christian Clark of NOLA.com. Clark states that Lonzo Ball, who will be a restricted free agent this summer, improved as a three-point shooter but struggles in other areas when his outside shot isn’t falling. Eric Bledsoe, who has one more guaranteed year on his contract, often seemed to be “mentally checked out,” according to Clark.
- Small forward Didi Louzada, who joined the Pelicans in late April, is getting a chance to play during the final week of the season, tweets Andrew Lopez of ESPN. “I would expect over these last three games he’ll get some minutes on the floor and we’ll be able to get a look at him,” Van Gundy said earlier this week, “but I don’t know if that’ll be a fair representation of what he can do for a guy to have one practice and not even a full fledged practice.”
- While the Pelicans didn’t accomplish what they hoped to this season, the organization benefited from the development of Hayes and Nickeil Alexander-Walker, contends Scott Kushner of NOLA.com. The team also got to take a long look at Kira Lewis Jr., Naji Marshall and Willy Hernangomez to determine if they will be part of the future.