New Orleans Pelicans: 3 storylines to watch against the Los Angeles Clippers

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New Orleans Pelicans, Jaxson Hayes
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New Orleans Pelicans: Jaxson Hayes is on a hot streak

Jaxson Hayes is off to a terrific start in March for the New Orleans Pelicans.

The second-year big out of Texas has recently usurped Willy Hernangómez in Stan Van Gundy’s rotation, returning things to how they were at the start of the season. Hayes began the year as Steven Adams’ backup, but was eventually relegated to the bench after inconsistent play on both ends of the floor.

Still, Hayes remained ready when called upon and his resurgence is great news for himself and for the Pelicans. The 6-foot-11 center gives New Orleans a unique skillset that no one else on the roster shares.

Hayes is at his best catching lobs and playing above the rim, which makes him a nice fit next to Lonzo Ball, Nickeil Alexander-Walker, and Brandon Ingram, for instance. His bounciness and athleticism should also theoretically provide the Pels with rim protection, although Hayes is still prone to defensive lapses when he is guarding the basket.

Hayes was one of the Pelicans’ standout performers against the Cleveland Cavaliers. He only missed one shot and displayed some great chemistry with Alexander-Walker. Since he came back into the fold four games ago, Hayes is averaging ten points and 1.5 blocks in 16 minutes per night.

However, Hayes has to keep building on this streak of good performances. He cannot afford to rest on his laurels now. The Pels need him, as has been the case for the entire season given that Steven Adams cannot be the only playable big, but he also needs to demonstrate why New Orleans picked him eighth overall in the 2019 draft.

The Pels have a team option on the former Longhorn in 2022. While Hayes is still just 20-years-old, one can only live on potential for so long before he starts having to show progress on the floor.

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