What Jaxson Hayes’ injury means for the Pelicans’ rotation

New Orleans Pelicans center Jaxson Hayes (10) Credit: Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports
New Orleans Pelicans center Jaxson Hayes (10) Credit: Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports /

The New Orleans Pelicans got their first bad news of the season, when Jaxson Hayes suffered an elbow injury in the second preseason game against the Detroit Pistons.

According to the Pelicans, Hayes suffered a “torn ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) in his left elbow…will undergo rehabilitation for the injury and will be re-evaluated in two weeks.”

This is a tough blow for the Pels, as well as for Jaxson Hayes, who was playing well and hoping to make a big leap in what is a contract year for him.

Related Story. Zion forming lethal two-man game with his passing. light

Hayes played 20 minutes per game last season and was likely to carve out an even bigger role off the bench this year as a backup center and power forward in different lineups. But that has been set back and now New Orleans has to figure out how to allocate those minutes in the rotation.

Jaxson Hayes’ injury and the Pelicans’ rotation

Hayes’ absence won’t affect the starting lineup of CJ McCollum, Brandon Ingram, Herb Jones, Zion Williamson and Jonas Valanciunas, but it will have a ripple effect on the second unit.

Hayes was getting most of his minutes with Larry Nance Jr. playing more of a center role, so the Pelicans could bump Nance Jr. back to power forward and go big with Willy Hernangomez.

  • Jose Alvarado
  • Devonte’ Graham
  • Trey Murphy III
  • Larry Nance Jr.
  • Willy Hernangomez

Hernangomez is playing well, but Willy has never been a guy who plays huge minutes, so the Pels are likely to spread the extra minutes around, which could benefit guys like Dyson Daniels and Naji Marshall, who can also play in lineups with Nance Jr. or Zion as small-ball centers.

The defensive versatility the Pelicans have with guys like Herb Jones, Brandon Ingram, Murphy III, Daniels and Marshall gives coach Willie Green a lot of options depending on the matchup.

We may see Hernangomez as the first big off the bench, but the Pels will lean on their depth and versatility while Jaxson Hayes is out, with players like Daniels and Marshall getting a chance to step up.

Next. Who has the best "Big 3" in the Western Conference?. dark