New Orleans Pelicans: Is it time to bench Jaxson Hayes?

Jaxson Hayes #10 of the New Orleans Pelicans (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Jaxson Hayes #10 of the New Orleans Pelicans (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /

The New Orleans Pelicans have the worst record in the NBA and there is no timetable for when Zion Williamson will return.

Brandon Ingram is also out with injury, surprise rookie Herbert Jones (recently put on the KIA Rookie ladder) is out with a concussion and things couldn’t have started much worse for the Pelicans.

That includes 3rd-year man Jaxson Hayes, who is struggling through one of the worst stretches of his young career.

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Hayes is averaging career lows in minutes, points, rebounds, field goal percentage and just about everything else to start the 2021-22 campaign.

I would argue that Willy Hernangomez currently gives the Pels a better chance to win games, and someone has to step up at the center position, as Jonas Valanciunas is going to get killed with all of the minutes he’s playing.

But should coach Willie Green put Jaxson Hayes on the bench?

New Orleans Pelicans: The argument for and against benching Jaxson Hayes

Hayes already appears to be in Willie Green’s doghouse, as he is barely playing and Green has tried just about everyone else at center looking for something that works.

The argument against benching Hayes is that this is rapidly becoming a lost season anyway, so why not lean into player development? Hernangomez is a solid veteran, but he is what he is, a journeyman backup center.

Hayes clearly has the higher ceiling and now seems like the perfect time to be getting these young guys minutes, as they aren’t going to win many games anyway with their two best players out.

On the other hand, minutes are not “given” in the NBA, they are earned, and I am ok with coach Green making Hayes earn his, high ceiling or not.

A benching might actually light a fire under Hayes, as it did last season when Stan Van Gundy put him on the pine, only for him to return and play the best basketball of his career.

Hayes has been disappointing so far this season and may need some additional motivation to get it going.

Honestly, I don’t have high hopes for a guy who has to be benched to be motivated, but at this point it might be worth a shot.

I am certainly not ready to give up on Hayes, as the talent is there, but eventually you have to show it on the court, and if the New Orleans Pelicans want to salvage their season, they need more from the backup center position than they are getting.

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