As Los Angeles Lakers head coach Darvin Ham continues to tinker with different lineups and rotations, Jaxson Hayes has emerged as the first choice for backup big man minutes. Though he doesn’t play a significant amount, Hayes still brings a lot of energy whenever he is on the court.
Altering shots on defense and helping out on the glass is Hayes’ primary role when he’s in the game and with the limited minutes he sees, the box score rarely stands out. But that doesn’t bother the big man, who understands his role on the Lakers won’t lead to many big numbers.
“Yeah, really for me it’s just trying to play my role,” Hayes said following practice on Wednesday. “Play defense, box guys out. I might not be out here getting a bunch of points and rebounds but I’m just out here trying to figure out what I can do to box guys out and get off the glass.
“Get all their best rebounders off the glass or just get guys open, roll my hardest to the basket so another man can be open and every once in a while, get a few dunks maybe. But really just trying to do what I can to help this team win, which is what we really need right now.”
That is the type of mindset that can be key to a team’s success. It isn’t about individual numbers, but rather the team succeeding, and Hayes is focused on having a positive impact on the Lakers in any way he can.
As the Lakers are in the midst of their toughest stretch of the season so far, Hayes feels the team has to lock in to turn things around and can’t point at anything but themselves for their recent struggles.
“Just really lock in on each team. Watch each individual game, Charlotte coming up first so lock in on them,” Hayes added. “We got to really win these ones. We can’t blame anyone else for our losses that we’ve been having this month besides ourselves so I feel like we need to lock in and really look at ourselves and try to grind these ones out.”
The Lakers have been on the road for the majority of the past month and again Hayes acknowledged how tough that has been, but like other players, refused to use it as an excuse. “It definitely takes it’s toll, especially going to East Coast cities where it’s freezing,” the big man noted.
“A bunch of guys have been getting sick, but you can’t use that for excuses. That’s the NBA for you, that’s our job, that’s what we signed up for. It’s definitely been hard for us but we got to fight through and just kind of clutch up these games.”
Hayes may not see big minutes regularly, but his mindset, passion and energy are in the right spot and his willingness to do whatever it takes for the Lakers to succeed will pay off eventually.
Lakers rumors: Interest in Royce O’Neale and Dorian Finney-Smith?
Something else the Lakers are surely looking into is potential roster upgrades and with trade deadline season getting closer, the team apparently has its eye on a couple players.
Two the team has apparently coveted for some time are Brooklyn Nets wings Royce O’Neal and Dorian Finney-Smith. Recent reports suggest the Lakers had interest last season so it is likely one or both could be targets for the team this trade deadline as well.
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