New Orleans Pelicans: Jaxson Hayes is showing star potential

(Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images) /
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New Orleans Pelicans
(Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images) /

New Orleans Pelicans: Jaxson Hayes is making up for lost time

Since his eventual promotion back to being a backup centre, Hayes showed why he was so highly touted. Hayes has the best defensive percentage points differential on the team from March until now, holding players to 11 percent less than their average. His length alone is disruptive, but Hayes is growing in discipline.

The biggest flaw with young bigs is they try to contest every shot, regularly conceding offensive rebounds. Hayes’ defensive boxout percentage increased significantly throughout the season. Since March, his rate is up three percent.

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Boxing out is a lost art due to the social media era where blocks and highlight plays mean more to casual fans than hustle plays. Understanding the importance of this defensive attention cannot be understated. For a player as athletic as Hayes, creating solid defensive foundations will only serve him and the franchise better as they move forward.

Along with his increased defensive output, Hayes’ offense is slowly developing. As seen during April, Hayes is willing to shoot corner threes. All of his seven attempts have come since the start of the month. In-game, it is obvious Hayes is taking note.

As you can see in the clip above, Hayes naturally drifts out to the arc and shoots without hesitation. His form has never been broken, and he continues to refine it, indicated by his 76 percent free throw percentage. The willingness to become a shooter provides Van Gundy with flexibility at the forward spot.

With James Johnson missing time periodically, Hayes stepped into the role and, along with Adams, became a menacing interior presence. Without Hayes being confident in his shooting prowess, the lineup would struggle for spacing and hamper the fluidity in the offense the New Orleans Pelicans struggle with at times.