D’Angelo Russell: Lakers Center Jaxson Hayes Is In For Big Payday This Summer
D'Angelo Russell, Jaxson Hayes, Lakers
Kiyoshi Mio-USA TODAY Sports

With LeBron James out due to illness, and Anthony Davis leaving the game early due to an eye injury, the Los Angeles Lakers had a large mountain to climb to take down the Minnesota Timberwolves on Sunday. But in Davis’ absence, Jaxson Hayes did everything in his power to give his team a chance to pull it off.

Hayes finished with a season-high 19 points on 8-of-9 shooting to go along with 10 rebounds and five steals, but the Lakers didn’t have enough to defeat the Timberwolves, falling 127-117. While Hayes credited D’Angelo Russell for finding him for easy buckets, Russell sent it right back Hayes’ way, praising him for dominating any time he gets the opportunity for a bigger role.

“Huge. He was amazing,” Russell said. “He’s gonna make a lot of money this summer, being on this main stage all these nights. Teams get to see him dominate his minutes. He’s been playing behind AD all season but whenever he gets just a little bit of time, he dominates. So kudos to him.

“He’s been hanging in there all year, he’s been doing everything we need him to do. So like I said, he’s gonna make a lot of money this summer.”

Hayes is certainly in line for more than the league minimum when he hits free agency this summer as Russell is right in that every time the Lakers need him for a bigger role, he has delivered. Hayes has played more than 30 minutes in a game just three times this season, but in those contests he is averaging 16.3 points, 9.0 rebounds and 3.0 steals.

As for what has helped Hayes’ growth this year, Russell believes the opportunity to play with the high IQ stars of the Lakers in Davis and LeBron has played the biggest role.

“Just playing with high level players,” Russell noted. “I think you go from New Orleans, you’re playing a different style with different type of players to coming here and playing with our two best players who are very high IQ guys. So we got to find ways to dominate our minutes around them, how do you complement them, things like that.

“You may not have ever had to take that into consideration so for him now to learn on the fly and dominate his short stints and him being in there at the same time with a positive mentality, I think the sky is the limit for him.”

Hayes has always had a ton of potential, but it looks as if being with the Lakers, around Davis and LeBron and with another big-time playmaker in Russell has begun to unlock everything the big man has inside of him.

Lakers’ Jaxson Hayes focused on staying out of foul trouble with Anthony Davis out

With Anthony Davis exiting early and Christian Wood still injured, the only other big man the Lakers had available was two-way center Colin Castleton. As such, Jaxson Hayes admitted that his main focus on Sunday was not getting in foul trouble so he could stay on the court.

“The main thing for me is just staying out of foul trouble because I knew AD wasn’t coming back for the game,” Hayes added. “Because if I got into foul trouble then we wouldn’t have much after, so that was just the biggest thing for me. Just keep my hands up and just try to give the guys as much energy as I can because I knew I had big shoes to fill.”

Have you subscribed to our YouTube channel? It’s the best way to watch player interviews, exclusive coverage from events, participate in live shows, and more!

You May Also Like

Lakers News: Russell Westbrook ‘Blessed’ After Moving Past Andre Miller For 11th On All-Time Assists List

Russell Westbrook has achieved a number of great accolades in his career, joining the Los Angeles Lakers…

Lakers News: Nick Young Believes Lakers Shouldn’t Be Scared Of Heat

Nobody expected the Los Angeles Lakers to beat the defending NBA champions,…

Happy Birthday Devin Ebanks

Here at Lakers Nation we like to keep you up to date…

Rob Pelinka Reveals Gianna Bryant Predicted Lakers Championship

Los Angeles Lakers vice president of basketball operations Rob Pelinka was one of the hardest hit by the tragic…