New Los Angeles Lakers big man Jaxson Hayes is excited about suiting up for the Purple and Gold.
He says he saw LeBron James play while attending many Cleveland Cavaliers games growing up, and that getting to play on the same team with him now is “surreal.”
Jaxson Hayes refers to LeBron James by saying, “It is crazy because I grew up going to Cavs games all my life. It’s surreal playing with him. I’m really excited about that.”
— 🎗NBA•Fan🎗 (@Klutch_23) July 6, 2023
Hayes was born in 2000 and went to high school in Cincinnati, Ohio, during James’ second stint with the Cavs. The 6-foot-11 man then attended the University of Texas before he became the No. 8 pick in the 2019 NBA Draft.
In four pro seasons, he hasn’t quite lived up to the billing of being a lottery pick. But he has flashed his potential and ability by running the floor well for someone his size, throwing down highlight dunks and providing some adequate rim protection.
Hayes played his first four seasons in the NBA with the New Orleans Pelicans, averaging 7.5 points, 4.0 rebounds and 0.7 blocked shots in 16.8 minutes a game. Although he’s seen mainly as a center, he has played a significant number of minutes at the 4 over the last couple of seasons.
The Lakers now appear to have a relatively speedy and athletic team not too long after they had a rather old and thin squad. Hayes should have the opportunity to get a number of easy baskets playing with James, D’Angelo Russell and Austin Reaves, especially on lob passes and fast-break opportunities.
The fact that Los Angeles is a running team will also give Hayes an opportunity to fit in well offensively.
However, the team still needs another legitimate center, particularly one that is defensive-minded. Mo Bamba, a tall and lanky center it traded for in February, left to join the Philadelphia 76ers, and the pickings at that position are slim at this point of the summer.
Tristan Thompson, a veteran big man the Lakers signed late this past season, is reportedly a candidate to shore up the position.