Clippers beat writer Ben Bolch will select one question tweeted by fans to ask Coach Doc Rivers at each of the team’s morning shoot-arounds on game days. You can tweet your questions to Bolch at @latbbolch. The question Bolch selected Friday was from @ClipperKyle: "How does [Rivers] plan to 'get Spencer [Hawes] going' after so long?"
There's no way around it: Spencer Hawes has been a massive disappointment in his first season as a Clipper.
The team signed Hawes to a four-year, $23-million contract this summer expecting the forward-center to be a floor-spacing big man who could make three-pointers to stretch defenses.
It hasn’t happened. Not even close.
Hawes began the season coming off the bench before moving into the starting lineup last month when Blake Griffin was sidelined by a staph infection in his right elbow, but Hawes’ production has not appreciably increased even while playing more minutes.
He was averaging 8.1 points and 3.9 rebounds in 25.3 minutes per game while shooting 36.9% as a starter compared with 6.1 points and 3.9 rebounds in 17.0 minutes and 42.4% shooting as a reserve.
Overall, Hawes is on pace for his lowest statistical output—averages of 6.6 points and 3.9 rebounds—since his rookie season with the Sacramento Kings in 2007-08. His 40.5% field-goal accuracy would be a career low if he sustained it and he has made only 32.4% of his three-pointers.
Is there anything Rivers can do to help Hawes 65 games into the season?
“No, I just think he’s going to keep getting better,” Rivers said Friday morning, hours before the Clippers would play the Dallas Mavericks at American Airlines Center. “He’s obviously not had the year we’d like, but it’s a long year. It still is a long year.
“It doesn’t matter if it’s late in the year. I’ve seen guys have horrible regular seasons and then break out in the playoffs. You don’t know where it’s coming, but we still believe in him just like the other 20 teams that wanted to sign him in the league. It’s there and we have to get it out.”
Rivers said there were several tactics he used to encourage Hawes to be more productive.
“You get on him, you talk to him, you hug him, you scream at him, you do everything,” Rivers said. “One thing I do like, I think he’s putting in the time and that’s the key. All you can do is work. It’s a human game, so that’s why I don’t fret about it. His job is to prepare mentally and physically and if he does that, that’s all I can ask for.”
Hawes’ skill set, Rivers said, was no different than what he thought it was when the Clippers signed the big man.
"He's not making shots, if you just wanted to simplify it," Rivers said, "and we need him to."