Several NBA Mock Drafts have Texas Longhorns 6’11” freshman forward Jaxson Hayes going to the New Orleans Pelicans with the 9th pick in the NBA Draft. Would that be a good fit?
Jaxson Hayes of the Texas Longhorns is currently injured after suffering a left knee bone bruise in a loss against the Kansas Jayhawks in the Big 12 Tournament. This defeat eliminated the Longhorns from the NCAA tournament, but they were able to at least make the NIT Tournament, albeit without Hayes. The team recently released this statement:
🚨 @hayes_jaxson update 🚨
After consulting with multiple specialists, it has been determined that there is NO structural damage in Jaxson’s left knee. He has a bone bruise in his left knee, and we are expecting him to make a full recovery in a matter of weeks. 🤘 pic.twitter.com/5claRQ0MFw
— Texas Basketball 🤘 (@TexasMBB) March 22, 2019
This is good news for Hayes, and it also would imply that he has played his last game for the Longhorns, assuming he enters the NBA Draft this summer.
One of the biggest qualities in Jaxson Hayes’ game is his rim protecting ability. He averaged 2.2 blocks per game this NCAA season, which included a 6 block game vs the Oklahoma Sooners, two games with 5 blocks, and another two games with 4 blocks. Jaxson also averaged 10 points and 5 rebounds per game while shooting 72.8% from the field which was the second best percentage in the NCAA.
The main area Jaxson needs to improve on is his rebounding. At 6’11”, rebounds should be falling into his hands fairly easily. However, he only reached double digit rebounds once this season. He will need to improve on this to reach his potential in the NBA. Staying out of foul trouble is also one of his weaknesses, but that is a struggle for a lot of big men at his age.
Overall, Jaxson should not have much trouble translating his college game to the NBA. If he works on his weaknesses and perfects his strengths, he should be fine. One thing to remember is that he is still just 18 years old and will turn 19 one month before the draft, so he’ll surely keep developing.
Since we can assume that Anthony Davis will not be returning to the New Orleans Pelicans next season, it would be good to find a replacement for him. Jaxson Hayes definitely has the same quality of protecting the rim just like Davis, although he’s not quite as dominant yet. He is also one of the best finishers around the rim, just like AD. The Pelicans have enough solid guards on their roster to build around and now need to find a forward or center in the draft. Things will become more clear as the season continues to wind down and the Pelicans begin to plan their future.