So, what can Chuck Hayes offer the Clippers?


Jan 25, 2014; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Raptors forward Chuck Hayes (44) during their game against the Los Angeles Clippers at Air Canada Centre. The Clippers beat the Raptors 126-118. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

After weeks of wondering who the Los Angeles Clippers might complete their roster with, they have now signed former Toronto Raptors big man Chuck Hayes. This hardly makes much difference to the Clippers’ championship chances or their overall rotation and game plan, but he’s still another player who can try and contribute in the few minutes he’ll receive next season.

From the get-go, Hayes will certainly struggle to find playing time among such a deep frontcourt. With the All-NBA duo of Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan taking the bulk of the minutes available, followed by two upgraded backups in the form of Josh Smith and Cole Aldrich, Hayes will be left at the bottom of the rotation next to rookie Branden Dawson.

However, whilst he lacks the talent to make any kind of significant difference, Hayes still has two key attributes to offer the Clippers; playmaking and post defense.

He’s only played more than 20 minutes per game three times in his ten year career, so his best displays of talent have generally been in short bursts. Although, seeing as he probably won’t be playing more than 5 minutes per game with the Clippers, a small role is nothing new. Especially after playing only 8.8 minutes per game in 29 contests with the Toronto Raptors last season.

Past aside, though, let’s look at his defensive ability.

My fellow editor here at Clipperholics, Trisity Miller, has graded the signing with a D+, which seems about right considering the extremely minimal difference Hayes will have on the Clippers’ prospects this season. Yet, as their 5th or 6th frontcourt option, they couldn’t have done much better with their limited cap space. One interesting aspect of his game that Miller referred to, though, is his ability to trouble players on defense. Mainly due to his undersized, yet strong, 6’6″, 240 lbs frame.

Last season, Hayes forced opponents to shoot 2.1 percent lower than normal within 10 feet of the basket. He may not be a strong rim protector, after allowing a shooting percentage of 56.6 percent to opponents at the rim, but around the paint is his sweet spot defensively. As a result, he held opponents to shoot 5.8 percent below their season average on two point field goal attempts (stats via Player Tracking).

Despite the fact he only played 29 games, this still proves his effort and the physicality he can bring to the Clippers’ 15th ranked defense.

The above video of his defense on Amar’e Stoudemire may be a few years old, but seeing as Hayes was never exactly the fastest player anyway, there’s little difference to how well he can move now. In that game, Hayes showed how tough his man defense can be. He constantly used his strength against Stoudemire on every drive attempt, as well as holding him out of the paint all together whenever possible. Plus, he’s still only 32; meaning he should be able to come in off the bench and deliver a few minutes of all-out effort when he’s given the opportunity by Doc Rivers.

Hayes may only be 6’6″, fairly slow and by no means explosive, but that isn’t always the key to good defense. What’s more important is effort, instincts, timing, and for big men, physicality. Thankfully for the Clippers, Hayes has all those attributes.

Considering the fact he’ll have such a small role in L.A., some solid, physical defense and little else is by no means the worst skill set Doc could have added.

Then there’s his playmaking. He shot a modest 47.8 percent from the floor last season and averaged a mere 7.1 points per 36 minutes. Add on the fact he doesn’t shoot past 10 feet away from the basket (he’s only taken 4.1 percent of his shots during his career from further than 10 feet), and it’s clear Hayes will do little for the Clippers’ offense in terms of scoring.

As a passer, though, Hayes can actually make something happen. He averaged a respectable 2.8 assists per 36 minutes last season, and in arguably his best year in the NBA (in 2010-11 with the Houston Rockets), Hayes recorded as many as 3.5 assists per 36 minutes. He even created 8.4 points per 48 minutes from his assists last season, which is a very respectable amount for a player like Hayes who had such a small role in his team’s offense.

So, with his physical defense and playmaking in mind, is Chuck Hayes a good addition to the Clippers?

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Ultimately, he’s a limited talent wise, yet he’ll hardly play enough minutes to make a noticeable difference. For an offense such as the Clippers’, though, that works so effectively from fast paced ball movement, Hayes should fit in nicely during the rare moments he’ll come off the bench.

With some strength to enforce on defense around the paint, he should at least provide some defensive energy as the Clippers’ possible 5th big man off the bench. At the other end of the floor, his vision and playmaking ability are enough to create the occasional basket, which is something that neither Glen Davis, Spencer Hawes or Ekpe Udoh were able to do last season.

In short, Doc didn’t do a bad job with the limited funds he had by signing Hayes. Regardless of whether or not he’s a game changer, the Clippers’ roster is now complete, and far deeper than it was a year ago.

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