New Orleans Pelicans’ fans probably lost interest in Summer League with Zion Williamson out, but Jaxson Hayes is a reason to pay attention.
NBA Summer League lost a lot of buzz with Zion Williamson being shut down with a minor knee injury, and New Orleans Pelicans’ fans, in particular, could be forgiven for checking out. But Jaxson Hayes made his debut in Las Vegas Monday night and gave everyone in New Orleans a reason to watch.
Hayes finished the game against the Chicago Bulls with 28 points (10-of-15 from the floor), four rebounds and three blocks over 21 minutes of action. The No. 8 pick in June’s draft out of the University of Texas was technically acquired via trade from the Atlanta Hawks, and since that deal could not be official until Sunday his Summer League debut was delayed.
The 6-foot-11 Hayes brings plenty of raw athleticism to the table, and in the second quarter Monday night he showed if off.
The victim here was guard Mychal Mulder, who played two non-descript seasons at Kentucky followed by the last two seasons (95 total games) in the G-League for the Windy City Bulls. He apparently had a good showing in Summer League this year heading into Monday night, but now he’s part of Hayes’ viral moment via a vicious posterizing. Sometimes standing in the way and trying to take a charge doesn’t work out.
A little earlier in the game, one of Hayes’ three blocked shots showed his potential to be an intimidating presence on that end of the floor.
Hayes wasn’t the only Pelicans’ rookie who had a nice game Monday night. Guard Nickeil Alexander-Walker had 23 points (3-for-6 from 3-point range), eight assists, three steals and two blocks against the Bulls.
Williamson is the centerpiece of David Griffin’s post-Anthony Davis plan. But Hayes unveiled his own set to skills and potential in his pro debut, and offered more evidence of how well Griffin did on draft night.