Report: Lakers confident Jaxson Hayes can start, play ‘prominent role’ in 2-big lineups with Anthony Davis

Peter Dewey
3 Min Read

The Los Angeles Lakers are confident in big man Jaxson Hayes’ ability to not only start but also play alongside Anthony Davis, according to The Athletic’s Jovan Buha.

“That’s before mentioning Jaxson Hayes, who the team is confident can start and play a prominent role with Davis in two-big lineups,” Buha wrote.

The Lakers signed Hayes this offseason to a two-year contract. The second season on his deal is a player option.

An athletic big man, Hayes averages 7.5 points and 4.0 rebounds per game for his career while shooting 62.2 percent from the field. He was a lottery pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, but the New Orleans Pelicans opted to let him walk in free agency this offseason.

Last season, Davis primarily played the center position for the Lakers, but he can be a matchup nightmare at the power forward spot as well.

With Hayes’ athleticism and size down low, Davis could move to that power forward spot when the Lakers face bigger lineups. The team used lineups like this during the 2019-20 season when it won the NBA Finals.

During that season, Davis played the power forward spot while Dwight Howard and JaVale McGee played center. The Lakers don’t exclusively have to use two-big lineups going forward, but it is a nice option to have for Darvin Ham and his coaching staff.

Last season, Hayes appeared in 47 games for New Orleans and made two starts. He saw his role decrease in a big way from the 2021-22 season when he appeared in 70 games, made 28 starts and averaged a career-high 9.3 points and 4.5 rebounds per game.

The Lakers would certainly love it if the former lottery pick could get back to that level in the 2023-24 season, as it would take some pressure off of Davis as well.

During the 2022-23 season, the Lakers lacked backup big man options down the stretch after Mo Bamba suffered an ankle injury. That forced Ham to use Wenyen Gabriel as a backup center option behind Davis.

Hayes certainly gives the Lakers more flexibility and depth as they look to contend for an NBA title in the 2023-24 season.

Since the team may have to go through the defending NBA champion Denver Nuggets and All-NBA center Nikola Jokic to win a title, having as many capable big men on the roster as possible is a solid strategy.

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Peter is a graduate of Quinnipiac University where he covered the MAAC and college basketball for three years. He has worked for NBC Sports, the Connecticut Sun and the Meriden Record-Journal covering basketball and other major sports. Follow him on Twitter @peterdewey2.