NEW ORLEANS, La. – As the New Orleans Pelicans count down the days to their first NBA scrimmage, the team continues to evaluate all levels of the team, more importantly, it’s depth.
Before the NBA’s COVID closure, rookies Nickeil Alexander-Walker and Jaxson Hayes showed flashes of first-round talent throughout the regular season.
In November, Alexander-Walker recorded a career-high 27 points against the Miami Heat and followed that performance up by scoring 19 points against the Golden State Warriors.
His minutes became limited following those games and NAW was assigned to the Pelicans’ G League team in February to gain more playing time.
He was there for 2 weeks, before being ruled out “indefinitely” in part to a right wrist fracture in March.
Pelicans Head Coach Alvin Gentry said on Monday that NAW has fully recovered from his injury and has been cleared to play during the NBA restart.
“He is a full go, and his wrist is fine. As a matter of fact, he’s had some really good practices here. I think his confidence is beginning to increase, and obviously, for him, confidence is everything. I also talked to him along the lines of every player wants it right now, and sometimes it takes [a while]. It’s a process to get there, and I think he understands that more than he did. Every rookie coming in wants to be able to be in the rotation, be able to play, and he’s had some opportunities to be on the court. I think he’s in a good place right now, and I think he’ll continue to get better,” says Pelicans Head Coach Alvin Gentry.
To hear more on Nickeil Alexander-Walker’s injury, click the link above.
As for the Pelicans rookie center, Jaxson Hayes, he has been nothing short of a spark-plug for the team.
Hayes has seen 12 starts on the season, averaging 17 minutes per game and a little over 7 points and 4 rebounds each contest.
Gentry believes that Hayes, much like Alexander-Walker, is going to be a terrific player for the team in time.
He thinks that Jaxson still has a lot to learn about the game of basketball and needs to get stronger.
“You’re talking about a 19-year-old kid, so there’s a lot of growing to do there. I think he gave us some energy when he was in the lineup. He has the ability to get out and run with just about any big guy in the league. A really, really good weak-side shot blocker. He continues to learn pick-and-roll defense, as to what we do when we have our big dropping. That’s a process also, but he’s a good young player that’s going to continuously get better. Number one, because just the whole maturation process that you go through in this league, and number two, I think he has a desire to do that,” says Gentry.