Sometimes when teams sign players, you immediately know what kind of impact that player might have on your team. For the Los Angeles Clippers, signing versatile big man Spencer Hawes was one of those moves. The seven-footer is going to be arguably the best reserve big man in the league next season, but after a recent turn of events it appears the Clippers might be needing Hawes’ services in the starting lineup from time to time.
Clipeprs All-Star power forward Blake Griffin backed out of team USA in late July. It was reported by multiple media outlets that Griffin was suffering from a hairline fracture in his back. Griffin told the Los Angeles Times earlier this week, “It’s less than a hairline and my back is not fractured. Everything is still intact.” Griffin has been working out with teammate DeAndre Jordan as well as former Clipper Sasha Vujacic, but he has pledged to lighten up his regiment. Which is good for now, but back injuries are unlike any other kind of injury.
I have dealt with a bad lower back now for several years, and in there lies the issue. Back problems do not go away, they linger with you for as long as your athletic career goes. Some days you feel fantastic and other days walking is painful, that is just the nature of back injuries. With this in mind, the Clippers should expect and plan to rest Griffin for several games this season. Spencer Hawes will assume the starting duties for Griffin if he is to miss several games. Yes, Blake Griffin to Spencer Hawes is a significant downgrade but because DeAndre Jordan never ventures outside the paint Hawes’ abilities can be maximized if he stretches the floor.
Last season, the former Washington Husky shot 45% from behind the arc in while in Cleveland. If Jordan can take another step forward with his offensive game this season, the combination of Hawes and Jordan could be devastating. Even when Griffin is healthy Doc Rivers should look to pair Jordan and Hawes together because their skill sets compliment each other so well.
Hawes opportunity to make a significant impact extends far beyond complimenting DeAndre Jordan. The former Washington Husky is joining an experienced second rotation. With a second unit full of shooters in Jordan Farmar, Jamal Crawford, C.J. Wilcox, and Glen Davis Hawes will find himself playing closer to the basket when he’s with this group.
Hawes ability to adapt his game in accordance to the personel around will be crucial to his individual success and the team’s success. If Hawes can contribute consistently off the bench as well as in the starting rotation when called upon, the Clippers might be getting a lot more production than what they are paying for.