Jaxson Hayes: Tools
Our scouting grades represent the composite opinion of at least three different scouts. Each category is graded based on how we view a player’s current ability level relative to NBA players at the same position (guard, wing, forward or big). A grade of 1 indicates replacement level, a grade of 5 indicates NBA average, and a grade of 10 indicates historically elite. Our composite scouting notes help provide context for our grades.
Hayes runs the floor well for a seven footer. He is more graceful than he is fast, but is still speedy enough to get into position to run a drag screen off an opponent's made basket to create pseudo-transition opportunities out of the secondary break. He has been effective and efficient as a trail man and should be one of the more lithe full-time bigs in the league.
Quicker than most opposing bigs, Hayes relies on his quickness to create space or to close gaps and air space. He shows explosiveness when slipping screens and can create small passing lanes that his more lumbering cohorts couldn't, especially when slipping screens early. He has good feet on the defensive end and can switch his hips to address action as a help-side defender. His agility affords him a margin for error which he needs until he can add some strength.
Hayes isn't an extraordinary or explosive leaper, but he puts all of his physical tools together well. He is able to play well above the rim and can even contort his body mid air to catch and finish difficult passes. He is a good distance jumper and can often glide by defenders who aren't expecting him to leave the ground so early when attacking off the bounce. Defensively, his shot blocking prowess is rightfully lauded, though much of what he does is a result of his frame as opposed to his leaping ability. He is able to elevate well off either foot and can get up quickly on his second jump, especially on the offensive glass.
Hayes has flashes of great body control and areas where he needs to make marked improvement. He does well defending defending post-ups and challenging shots, but he can get into trouble when offensive players look to initiate contact. In keeping with the fashion of the rest of the report, adding lower body strength and disciplining himself not to bite on every shot fake will be critical to his success. On offense, he will occasionally fade away from the basket and is too quick to go to his jump hook instead of squaring his body and attacking into his defender. He is good at pulling in offensive boards and getting them up off the glass from tough angles.
Standing at 6'11 and sporting a 220-pound frame, Hayes is the modern prototype for a mobile big man. He is lengthy and fluid, able to defend at all three levels and challenge shots all over the floor. He will be able to add some weight and, by extension, strength to his frame and because he is one of the youngest players in the draft, might still add an inch or two of height before topping out. He has good upper body strength, making him a terror as a shot blocker, but needs to improve his base to take on NBA behemoths.