Chicago Bulls see Jaxson Hayes as “strong fit” per KC Johnson

(Photo by Jeff Haynes/NBAE via Getty Images)
(Photo by Jeff Haynes/NBAE via Getty Images) /

After selecting big men at #7 in the 2017 and 2018 drafts, the Chicago Bulls are reportedly interested in Jaxson Hayes to continue the trend in 2019.

Despite the hefty need for a point guard and sharper shooting from their wings, the Bulls are yet again linked to a big man early in the NBA draft. The media member with the most access to the Chicago Bulls front office, the Chicago Tribune‘s KC Johnson, revealed the team’s internal interest in Texas center Jaxson Hayes in this year’s NBA Draft.

In his lone season at Texas, Hayes averaged 10 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 2.2 blocks per game, but only registered 23.3 minutes per game. His measurables are daunting, he stands 7’0″ with a 7’3.5″ wingspan with jump-out-of-the-gym athleticism.

Hayes did not attempt a three-point shot at Texas and his jump shot is a weakness. However, he shot 72.8% from the floor and 74% from three free-throw line on 3.1 attempts per game, which is somewhat of a positive sign.

With just one full week left until the 2019 NBA Draft, this development certainly comes as a shock to a lot of fans. Up to this point, the team’s interest in Jarrett Culver, Coby White and Cam Reddish indicated the team’s preference to get a shot-making/shot-creating guard or forward with their selection.

The reason Hayes is ranked so high in this draft, despite limited production during his freshman season is what could provide for a team as a modern NBA center. Hayes projects as a quality rim protector who could grow into an overall, high-level interior defender with added focus.

On the offensive end of the floor, his quick lateral speed makes him a strong weapon in pick-and-roll sets. More important to the fold perhaps, as more offenses start relying on quick lobs to their big man as a source of offense (see Clint Capela), Hayes is a strong match for a dime-dropping point guard. I should add the Bulls don’t have a dime-dropping point guard on the roster right now.

Considering the Bulls selected Lauri Markkanen, 7’0″ and Wendell Carter Jr., 6’10” in each of the last two drafts, of course with the same #7 overall selection. Unless the Bulls are targeting a move back into the draft, it seems odd that they’d spend another selection on a position group they’ve successfully addressed in the past few seasons.

Last season, the Bulls ranked 27th in the NBA in three-point attempts and ranked 30th in three-pointers made, but still shot a middling 35.1%, tied for 17th in the NBA (the same clip as the Denver Nuggets, so not bad). In a league leaning heavily on three-point shots, it would be jarring for the Bulls to add a player who doesn’t shoot threes into the fold so high in the draft.

Next. PJ Washington is a perfect fit for Boylen. dark

However, as fellow Pippen Ain’t Easy Andrew Miller points out, Jaxson Hayes does have a pretty high ceiling if everything hits. It is worth wondering if the Bulls should take a gamble on a player in a position they seem to have solved.

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