A dunk, a block and a smile: How Jaxson Hayes is winning over New Orleans Pelicans fans

There are two things in basketball guaranteed to get the fans out of their seats: a dunk and a block. This year’s team has gifted New Orleans Pelicans fans plenty of those moments.

While the New Orleans Pelicans have been waiting for the arrival of one key rookie, they’ve had their second selection from the very same draft rise to the occasion.

The man providing most of the highlight reel material is rookie Jaxson Hayes. The 6’11” first-round pick out of the University of Texas provided some highlight-worthy dunks and blocks in the Summer League.

Excitement built in the early part of the season as we saw flashes of his athleticism. With more time and work in the gym, Hayes has developed into a reliable bench player and sometimes a starter for the New Orleans Pelicans.

As his all-around game has improved, the highlight reel consistently has one of his wild dunks or crazy blocks in it.

With each minute he plays, his confidence is obviously growing. Hayes followed up his second double-double in a row against the New York Knicks on January 10 with a career-high 20 points against the Celtics in Boston on January 11. His improvement is on full display as he logs more minutes on the court while Derrick Favors is out with an injury.

To the casual observer, his dunks are spectacular and his blocks generate “oohs” in the arena.

However, the best part of watching Hayes at a game is what seems to be his pure joy in being on the court while supporting his teammates when he’s on the bench. He is clearly having a blast in his first NBA season.

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When the Pels return home Thursday night, you can be sure that Jaxson Hayes’ theatrics above the rim will be accompanied by his youthful exuberance of just playing the game. And that, plus the recent W’s by the team and the return of Zion Williamson, will give fans in the SKC even more to cheer about.

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