Clippers Offseason: Grading the Chuck Hayes Signing


I like to look at signings by how they shift a team’s ceiling (or floor if bad enough). Let’s look at recent Clippers free agent signings as an example.

All of Paul Pierce, Josh Smith, and Lance Stephenson possess the talent to push the Clippers’ championship into a stratosphere normally reserved for bonafide contenders: last year, that group included the Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors. Players like Pablo Prigioni and Cole Aldrich? They do more for keeping a stable floor rather, and even at their hypothetical worse, aren’t bad enough to deeply hurt the ceiling.

For Chuck Hayes, the team’s latest free agent signing, the 6’6, defense-first forward/center 1) isn’t talented enough to push the ceiling and 2) will step into a role where his presence does little to neither the floor or ceiling.

Live Feed

NBA Power Rankings: Tiering all 30 projected starting point guards for 2023-24
NBA Power Rankings: Tiering all 30 projected starting point guards for 2023-24 /

Sir Charles In Charge

  • The Clippers' new Kawhi and Paul George strategy might just workHoops Habit
  • 4 Teams that need to trade for Hawks' Trae Young immediatelySoaring Down South
  • Clippers big mad that Taylor Swift had more banners in their arenaFanSided
  • 4 Trae Young trades the Hawks should considerFanSided
  • Eric Haase accepts assignment to Triple-A ColumbusAway Back Gone
  • Last season wasn’t good for Hayes. Unable to scratch Dwayne Casey’s frontcourt rotation, the 10-year veteran averaged 1.7 points, his lowest scoring output since the 2008-09 season and a career-low 1.8 rebounds in 255 total minutes, easily the worst year of his career from a statistics standpoint. The on/off numbers were in his favor despite the numbers, with the Raptors 7.1 points (per 100 possessions — via Basketball Reference) better when the forward was on the floor. The surprise? This had little to do with his ability to impact defenses and everything to do with the offense improving, as the offensive rating jumped from 104.6 to 112.1.

    This trend may carry over into Los Angeles, but I suspect more because of the four pieces around him in LA than Hayes being the deciding force, as things likely were in Toronto. But what hopefully carries over is three things: rebounding, impacting the offense via his offensive screens, and defense; defense is no.1.

    The numbers weren’t too spectacular for Hayes on defense either. Per ESPN’s defensive real plus-minus stat, Hayes straddled the line between positive and negative defender, as seen by his 0.08 DRPM, 48th best among centers. With the smaller sample size, Hayes’ 2013-14 DRPM rating of 2.44, 20th best among centers, may be a better representation of his skill. Even at 6’6, smaller than Golden State’s Draymond Green and former Clippers big Glen Davis, Hayes is a rock defending the post, a skill that may prove useful in the playoffs if L.A. matches up with the Memphis Grizzlies (Marc Gasol, Zach Randolph) or San Antonio Spurs (LaMarcus Aldridge, David West, Tim Duncan).

    Here is an excellent video of Hayes, many years ago, doing a great job on prime Amar’e Stoudemire:

    With time having passed between this clip and the modern-day Hayes, expecting his defense to be THIS good every time he touches the floor isn’t ideal. But in a limited role when on the floor, odds are he’s one of the guys putting forth the right effort and making the expected reads to keep things intact.

    Rebounding and setting screens are typical — he’s been in the NBA long enough to know those are key parts of his job as he’s little to offer on offense.

    All-in-all, Chuck Hayes is an okay signing for an end of the bench role who does zero for the team’s ceiling or floor. But he’s better than the Antawn Jamison‘s and Byron Mullen‘s of years past, so give Doc credit there.

    Overall Grade: D+

    Next: Lob City's best dunks of the 2014-15 NBA season