Why Spencer Hawes Is the Perfect Backup for Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan

Michael C. JonesContributor IIIJuly 14, 2014

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While the Los Angeles Clippers didn't make a major splash in free agency this offseason, acquiring Spencer Hawes will be the only move needed in order to find postseason success in 2014-15.

That's because Hawes, a versatile big man who can play either power forward or center, is a perfect fit for Doc Rivers' squad behind Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan.

The former Sacramento Kings first-round selection excels in areas where the Clippers' bigs are deficient. Griffin and especially Jordan can be a liability at the free-throw line late in games. An added bonus for Hawes is that he doesn't shy away from contact. 

Most importantly, however, Hawes bought into the Clippers' philosophy and is willing to accept a role less than what he deserves at this point in his career.

That says a lot about the maturity level of a 26-year-old with plenty of upside.

With Griffin and Jordan situated as the frontcourt incumbents, Hawes will be left to play a significant role on both ends of the floor when one or both are on the sideline. 

Fortunately for the Clips, he's embraced what lies ahead in Los Angeles and has the tools necessary to deliver on expectations of a player making $23 million over four years. 


The skills

The core skills Hawes possesses are more fundamental than athletic. He grew up a fan of Tim Duncan and has elements of his game resembling those of the future Hall-of-Famer. 

For better or worse, Griffin and Jordan receive much of their highlight-reel love because of their above-the-rim game. If any part of their repertoire comes into question, it's their occasional overreliance on the ability to out-jump and out-quick opponents. 

Passing, rebounding and shooting ability make up for Hawes' athletic shortcomings.

What's more is he gives opponents a different look to game plan for. He's a true stretch big man who can give teams fits from all three scoring levels. In any rotation, that's a coveted feature.  


The numbers

Statistics don't always tell the whole story, but one thing Hawes' career numbers demonstrate is that he's strong in areas where Griffin and Jordan struggle. He's a lifetime 70.3 percent free-throw shooter who notched a career-high mark of 78.3 in 2013-14.

In addition, he can stretch out and hit the three-point shot on occasion (41.6 percent in 2013-14) and knock down the mid-range jumper with consistency. 

According to NBA.com, Hawes proved capable of converting on shots from 16 to 24 feet last season with a mark of 42.4 percent. He also excelled at the above-the-break three-pointer (42.3 percent) and the corner three (42.1 percent) from the left-hand side. 

That shooting ability is something Jordan doesn't have in his arsenal. Griffin is still working to develop a consistent outside shot of his own. Blake's still got more work to do in that regard and isn't where Hawes is now. 


Ready to win

As a seven-year NBA veteran, Hawes knows his way around the landscape of the league. But at a relatively young age, he's still got substantial growth potential.

Damian Dovarganes/Associated Press

After spending five of his first seven seasons watching the playoffs from home, he bought into Rivers' philosophy and believes in where the Clippers are headed long term.  

Hawes via the Los Angeles Times:

“I think with Doc and speaking with him, when he tells you something, you buy in. You believe it right away. I think his sell from the beginning was strong and it definitely left an impression."

The buy-in factor can't be understated. Behind two stars, Hawes is going to remain coachable and will learn from one of the best coaches in the league in Rivers.

There has to be an understanding among Hawes, management and the coaching staff. By the looks of things, the Clippers' latest signee will make a seamless transition into the heart of the rotation.

Everything about the Clippers' newest addition suggests an ideal match for all the right basketball reasons. 

All statistics via Basketball-Reference.com unless otherwise noted