Report: Lakers have big plans for recent top-10 pick amid roster shakeup

Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports
Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports /

The Los Angeles Lakers have had a successful offseason thus far, though there have been some questions about their frontcourt. Aside from Anthony Davis, the team is surprisingly thin at center with just Jaxon Hayes, the 8th pick in the 2019 NBA draft being the only other big man on the roster.

Hayes failed to pan out with the New Orleans Pelicans, paving the way for him to join Los Angeles as an unproven free agent. Despite that and the Lakers zeroing in on the top remaining free agent, they reportedly have big plans for Hayes. According to The Athletics’ Jovan Buha, the Lakers expect to start him next to stars LeBron James and Davis.

If that is indeed the case, then it changes the team’s projected depth chart. With Hayes starting at the five, Davis will again play power forward, and Jarred Vanderbilt and Rui Hachimura will likely be their backups.

Will the Lakers’ game plan with Jaxon Hayes work?

While Los Angeles expects to start Hayes, that isn’t necessarily an indication of how many minutes he will play next season. In fact, several teams start stop-gap centers but only play them for a limited number of minutes each game.

It is entirely possible that Lakers head coach Darvin Ham plans to start Hayes for the first six or seven minutes of each half and play him for about 20 minutes per game overall. Doing so would allow the Lakers to play big, keep Davis from having to defend some of the more physical centers, and maximize Hayes, who would be playing with the team’s four best players.

Although he hasn’t made much of an impact in the NBA thus far, he is considered to be a good athlete. And at 6’11, he could make for a good roll-man and lob finisher, and playing with LeBron would maximize his potential impact. That would also improve their depth with D’Angelo Russell or Gabe Vincent, Taureen Prince, Hachimura, and Vanderbilt making up their second unit.

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All in all, the Lakers rumored decision to start Hayes makes some sense. That being said, given how unproven he is, it isn’t without risk.