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Did You Know That... Zion Williamson believes Jaxson Hayes is the Pelicans’ most electric dunker?

Zion Williamson knew something very bad was about to happen. He tried to warn someone.

As the NBA’s No. 1 draft pick sat on the New Orleans bench during the second quarter of a summer league game vs. Chicago in July, Williamson cautioned Bulls point guard Mychal Mulder not to try to step in front of Pelicans center Jaxson Hayes to draw a charge, but it was too late. Of course, in a crowded Las Vegas arena, it didn’t help that Williamson only said it loud enough for a teammate or two to hear him.

Without the ability to potentially benefit from Williamson’s advice, Mulder stood in the paint and waited for Hayes to plough into him for an offensive foul. Unfortunately for Mulder, the 6-foot-11 Hayes instead jumped over the 6-foot-4 Bull, resulting in what one Pelicans fan recently tweeted was “the greatest dunk I’ve ever seen in a game.”

Not that Williamson needed more evidence, but that moment helped convince him that Hayes is New Orleans’ most electric dunker, even though Williamson is more well-known for coming up with thrilling, SportsCenter-worthy slams.

“I said to Christian Wood (on the New Orleans summer league bench), ‘Don’t do that. Don’t do that!’ ” Williamson remembered of fearing for Mulder, as the Chicago player stepped into Hayes’ path. “(When Hayes dunked), I was like, ‘Oh my God!’ ”

Williamson later approached Hayes to compliment the fellow rookie on the jaw-dropping dunk.

“I’m like, ‘Jax, your head was above the rim on that!’ It was legit crazy.”

New Orleans and NBA fans have since viewed Hayes’ above-the-rim exploits during the 56 regular season games the Texas product played, but teammates received an even more frequent glimpse of his athleticism, beginning with voluntary workouts in September. Hayes is capable of generating soaring slams and improbable putback dunks you rarely see, one reason guard Jrue Holiday has said of Hayes, “He’s a freak of nature, one of those mutants.”

Throughout the 2019-20 season, Williamson sporadically has been asked by reporters in other cities if he’d like to participate in future NBA dunk contests. He generally responds that he’ll only consider it if the Pelicans accomplish some of their big-picture team goals, wanting to focus on that first. Whether we see Williamson in that event during upcoming All-Star weekends or not, he’s more than willing to stump for the NBA extending an invite to another member of New Orleans’ talented ’19 draft class.

“You should see some of the stuff he does in practice,” Williamson said of Hayes’ behind-closed-doors throwdowns. “I’m like, ‘Man, are y’all watching this? This is amazing.’

“Forget my dunking ability. It’s amazing to watch Jaxson dunk.”