Height: 7’0” Weight: 219 Wingspan: 7’4” Age: 19 College: Texas Hometown: Loveland, Ohio
Jaxson Hayes has the highest floor of any big man in the draft, and he still has a pretty high ceiling. He is a modern 5 man, that can guard the pick and roll well, protect the rim, and has great roll gravity. He can help a team with his rim protection, defensive versatility, roll gravity, and finishing around the rim. He can hurt a team with his iq and not having vision, defensive discipline, and floor spacing. On offense right now he strictly stays in the dunker spot. He plays with great energy and has a very high motor. He seems like a good likeable teammate that accepts his role, and is a team first guy. He had a .3 A/to ratio which greatly needs improved. He will never have great vision but it will help if he improves this, so he can play in the short roll. Hayes is a very solid big, that should be able to contribute right away. He’s best as a big guy that plays in the pick and roll and as a rim protector.
Hayes is no doubt one of the best defenders in the draft. He is very mobile for his size, so he can switch the pick and roll, and stay in front of guards. Even if he doesn’t stay in front he will be able to catch up because of his 7’4” wingspan. He is an elite rim protector which is very important. He had 3.8 blocks per 40 minutes. He is solid defending in the post 1 on 1, but if he wants to be an elite defender then he needs to improve this. All he needs to improve is his strength for this, he is light right now for his height at 219 pounds. However, he just turned 19, so it shouldn’t be hard for him to put on some muscle as long as he works at it. If he puts on some muscle he should be an elite defender because of his length and mobility. He could improve his defensive discipline of knowing when to help, but I think this will happen with experience.
On offense Hayes will make a career out of standing in the dunkers spot, and setting ball screens then rolling. He is a very good finisher and last year he was in the 98th percentile as a finisher. He does only use his right hand, but he has elite length, and solid bounce so he dunks all over defenders. He has a knack for being in the right spot at the right time to get easy dunks, so that’s part of the reason he finished so efficiently last year. If he plays with good guards in the NBA he should get many of the same looks at the rim. Unlike most guys that play like him he is a solid free throw shooter. He shot 74% from the line this past season. This also makes me think he has some potential to stretch his range, which would help his teams floor spacing a ton, and give him a chance to develop into a pick and pop player. I don’t think it’s likely he becomes a reliable outside shooter but it’s definitely possible. I imagine Hayes will be setting a ton of ball screens next season. Last year he was in the 95th percentile as the Pick and Roll man. It’s not only his points in the Pick and Roll, that are valuable, but also his gravity. He draws defenders to him when he rolls hard which opens up shooters. He is a constant lob threat, and he has incredible hands due to his background as a wide receiver. He’s also great at reading when to slip screens. He should be one of the best pick and roll men in the NBA, especially if he improves his vision, so then he can play out of the short roll. The two other ways he will score in the NBA are offensive rebounds, and transition. He has a constant motor going for offensive rebounds, and his length helps him get many. These are easy opportunities to score. He was in the 95th percentile in transition last year. This is because he routinely beats other bigs down the floor for dunks because of his effort and speed. This should continue in the NBA. He posted up a little in college, but his skill set down in the post is a little raw, so I can’t see him posting up at all, especially the way the modern NBA is going.
Jaxson Hayes is a solid modern big with a pretty high ceiling and floor. At worst, if he doesn’t improve his vision and feel for the game at all I could see him being a great rim protector off the bench for a good team. If he improves his vision a little I could see him being a solid starting big. If he improves his vision and feel for the game a lot he has a chance to be an all star level big, and an elite All-NBA defender. I don’t think it’s likely he reaches that full ceiling, but it is likely that he becomes a solid starting big.