In Defense of the Sacramento Kings' Chuck Hayes

Benjy EgelCorrespondent IIAugust 24, 2013

Hayes held Dwight Howard to 12 points in their March 17 matchup.
Hayes held Dwight Howard to 12 points in their March 17 matchup.Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

The Chuck Hayes Gardenia is one of America's toughest flowers as it is able to withstand both hot and cold temperatures. Sacramento Kings' forward/center Chuck Hayes' parents picked a fitting name for their sturdy son.

When the Kings signed Hayes to a four-year, $22.4 million contract in 2011, he was expected to be a defense-first team player. Though Hayes has delivered on his half of the bargain, he remains glued to the bench.

A Cowbell Kingdom poll showed Hayes as the odd man out in the Kings' crowded frontcourt, with DeMarcus Cousins, Jason Thompson, Patrick Patterson and Carl Landry all looking to get more playing time.

In 2010-11 with the Houston Rockets, Hayes averaged 7.9 points and 8.1 rebounds in 28.1 minutes per game. Hayes' numbers dipped the next season because of limited playing time, a nagging shoulder injury and a corresponding weight gain.

Hayes was in better shape last year, the Sacramento Bee's Jason Jones said, but struggled again in limited playing time. If Hayes arrives to training camp ready to run, he will have plenty to offer the Kings.


Unselfish, Efficient Play

Unlike starting DeMarcus Cousins, Hayes plays within his abilities. Cousins often takes long twos despite being able to back down nearly any defender, and tries to juke people out far too often.

Hayes knows he is no Isaiah Thomas or Greivis Vasquez, so he's willing to give up the ball on offense rather than risk losing possession. He committed 0.6 turnovers per game last season, tied for fifth-lowest among all qualifying players.

A Vorped graph shows that Hayes took 87.8 percent of his shots from inside the key last year, far and away the most efficient spot for a player of his skill set.

Sacramento was overflowing with scorers last year, so "Chuckwagon" deferred to teammates and limited himself to 2.6 shots per game.

He's not Chris Webber, but Hayes can drop a few dimes every now and then, like the feed on the right to Jimmer Fredette.


Hard-Nosed Defense and Rebounding

New head coach Mike Malone told the Sacramento Bee's Jason Jones that the Kings will focus on defense and rebounding next year. Having Hayes on the bench gives Malone a tough post player who can lock down opponents of all sizes and reel in a few boards.

At 6'6" and 250 pounds, Hayes' frame calls to mind another Chuck, one with the surname Barkley. Hayes' bulky build allows him to body up against bigs like Kevin Garnett or Amar'e Stoudemire. writer Jason Friedman noticed Hayes' defensive skills in Houston, where he shut down everyone from Greg Oden to Corey Maggette while subbing for the 7'6" Yao Ming.

The Kings' porous defense gave up 2.4 more points per game than any other team last year. Chuckles only played 16.3 minutes per game, his lowest total since 2008-09, but managed to rank sixth on the team in Defensive Win Shares.

Hayes' physical style of play comes in handy when crashing the boards. Last season he had the second-highest Total Rebound Percentage of any player currently on the roster.

When Landry and Malone teamed up last year on the Golden State Warriors, the power forward's TRP shot up from 12.8 to 14.2 percent. Landry also gained 1.2 Defensive Win Shares under Malone's tutelage.


Looking Forward

The Kings should switch Patterson to the 3, since he shot 44.4 percent from downtown and couldn't grab rebounds in his half-season with the Kings.

Small forwards John Salmons and Luc Richard Mbah a Moute are mediocre scorers, so Patterson will get his share of minutes. With Patterson on the wing, all the talented post players will get their deserved playing time.

Hayes would serve primarily as the backup center, and could switch to power forward if Thompson or Landry need a break. 

There is nothing sexy about Chuck Hayes; he will never be a star. For the Kings, though, his down-and-dirty selfless style is a clear asset off the bench.