Jaxson Hayes could be the X-factor in Pelicans’ play-in push

New Orleans Pelicans center Jaxson Hayes Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
New Orleans Pelicans center Jaxson Hayes Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports /

The New Orleans Pelicans won their third game in a row behind another strong effort from Brandon Ingram and a huge boost from Jaxson Hayes off the bench.

I thought Ingram’s return was going to be a turning point for the Pelicans, as everyone else was playing well, they were defending as a team but losing close games that they might have won if Ingram had been in there.

They’ve now won three in a row, which propelled them past the Trail Blazers into the 10th and final play-in spot.

The Pels are about to kick off a six-game homestead, so this could be a chance for them to continue to move up in the standings.

Related Story. Why a CJ McCollum trade is the right move. light

Aside from the continued strong play from Ingram, Jonas Valanciunas, Josh Hart and the brilliance of rookie Herb Jones, the Pelicans have finally gotten some help off their bench in the form of Jaxson Hayes, who has been outstanding over the last four games.

Jaxson Hayes makes the Pelicans dangerous

The Pels’ bench has struggled to make much of an impact this season, but that has changed of late with the play of Jose Alvarado and Jaxson Hayes.

When Hayes is playing with energy and purpose he makes an impact on both ends, as he did last night against the Rockets, scoring 21 points and adding seven rebounds and two blocks.

On this play, he grabs a tough board then takes it coast to coast for the finish.

When you see Hayes do things like this, you can understand why some fans are so high on him, as there aren’t many 7-footers who move like that.

We’ve seen flashes of play like this from Hayes before, but something has seemed to click of late, as Hayes has been super efficient, cut down on some of his mistakes and looks to be focused, a credit to Willie Green, who has made the young Hayes earn every minute this season.

Hayes has gone 29/34 from the field over the last four games, giving the Pels some much-needed bench scoring and rim protection.

The Pels were counting on Nickeil Alexander-Walker and Jaxson Hayes to make a leap this season, and we’ve seen signs of it, though not consistently.

If one or both of them can play well down the stretch, the Pelicans are a much-more dangerous team that doesn’t have to rely so heavily on the starting five to win games.

Next. What would a trade for De'Aaron Fox cost the Pelicans?. dark