Zion Williamson (1) and Jaxson Hayes (10); Photo Credit: New Orleans Pelicans
The New Orleans Pelicans are set up for success through a combination of strategic moves and sheer luck; the team has the potential to be a dynasty in the coming years.
In 2017, the Pelicans boasted a frontcourt of Anthony Davis and Demarcus Cousins, a scary duo that would create problems for other NBA teams for years to come. Unfortunately, the pair broke up. Demarcus left the organization for the Warriors, hoping to win a championship and AD grew very unhappy with his situation in NOLA. Eventually, AD demanded a trade to the Lakers, forcing the Pelicans to begin building for the future. The Pelicans walked away from the AD trade with a budding young core of Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, and Josh Hart. Also from that trade, the team was able to secure the fourth overall pick in the 2019 Draft, which the front office turned into the athletic 6’11” center, Jaxson Hayes. The organization also had a stroke of luck in the lottery process, winning the #1 overall pick in the 2019 Draft, Zion Williamson. Although the Pelicans are not seeing immediate success, the pairing of Zion Williamson and Jaxson Hayes in the frontcourt could possibly lead to a New Orleans Pelicans dynasty.
The first half of the duo is Zion. The 19 year old, 6’6, 285 pound phenom has taken the NBA by storm. Like many others, I was wary of mainstream sports media’s obsession over the Pelican’s rookie. However, the hype around Zion is mostly warranted. In the 19 games in which Zion has played in, he has averaged 23.6 ppg, 6.8 rpg, 2.2 apg, and has a remarkable field goal percentage of 58.9%. He might still be a teenager, but at the power forward position, Zion still bullies and dominates grown men on the NBA hardwood, night in and night out. Some sports analysts and fans believe that Zion Williamson will not have a long NBA career. They think Zion’s history with injury and his lack of shooting ability will hold him back and not allow him to succeed in the NBA. However, if Zion is able to keep injuries at bay and can slowly create a reliable jump shot, he could be one of the most dominant all-around players in league history at the 4. Zion Williamson is one of the brightest, most unique young talents we have seen since Lebron James and has the potential to become one of the most, if not the most, memorable basketball players of all time.
The second half of this pair is Jaxson Hayes. Hayes was a relatively unknown talent coming into the 2019 Summer League, especially for a lottery pick. Averaging an unimpressive 10 points and 5 rebounds in college on a mediocre Texas team, Hayes’ stock was dropping in the months up to the draft. Advertised to be an elite defender and a raw athlete, Hayes quickly began to show his potential. During his first game, he took over social media with one of the greatest posters in summer league history.
Video Credit: Youtube, Bleacher Report
After his showing in the summer league, the Texas alum began to receive attention from across the basketball world. In the 56 games Hayes has played in this year, he has only averaged 7.5 ppg, 4.0 rpg, .9 bpg, in 17 minutes of action per contest. These are not the greatest stats, however, Hayes has been nearly as productive against superior talent in the NBA on a per minute basis as he was in college. Hayes has shown glimpses of star potential in the playing time he has gotten. He is very athletic for his size which makes him an excellent finisher around the rim, making 66% of his attempts. Hayes’s athleticism also helps him become a significant defensive presence in the post where he has shown the potential to become one of the league’s best shot blockers. Jaxson Hayes is still developing as a player and could possibly become a top-five center in the league in the near future.
Zion Williamson and Jaxson Hayes are two potential stars in the league and can become one of the most formidable frontcourt duos of the coming decades. With this pair and the other young stars on the team, the New Orleans Pelicans have the potential to form the next dynasty in NBA history.