You know that LeBron James returned home to Cleveland this summer, but did you know that Spencer Hawes signed with the Los Angeles Clippers? Probably not – even though it might have been one of the most important transactions of the offseason.
Why? It’s simple: Hawes can shoot, shooters create floor space, and that makes everyone else’s job easier.
“No question about it,” Clippers guard Jamal Crawford said on The Doug Gottlieb Show. “Spencer has such a high IQ. He’s so skilled. He can stretch the floor; he can shoot threes like a guard. When you have that different look and a different dynamic with him, Blake (Griffin) and DeAndre Jordan rotating along with (Glen Davis), they all bring something different to the table. Spencer is the shooter. When we’re out there with them, that drags bigs away from the basket and obviously there’s more driving lanes. He just opens up the court so much more. You can’t just load up guys. He’s a guy that will knock down shots consistently.”
Hawes, 26, made 128 three-pointers for the Cavaliers and 76ers last season, when he averaged 13.2 points and 8.3 rebounds.
Crawford, to his credit, also knows a thing or two about scoring. He averaged 18.6 points last season. Not bad for a bench player.
“I would still come off the bench,” Crawford said, when asked if he’d rather start. “If you have a guy who can get 18 to 20 points consistently off the bench, I think that’s a big plus. It keeps the starters fresher because they’re on the bench longer. They’re able to get their rest. I think it gives our team confidence that when things get a little stagnant, I can change the complexion of the game a little bit.”
Crawford, who has played the last two seasons in Los Angeles, has been extremely impressed with the development of teammate Blake Griffin, who averaged a career-high 24.1 points last year.
“Before I came here, I thought Blake just dunked a lot,” Crawford said. “But there’s so much more to his game. He’s such a talented passer. He’s unselfish. He can handle the ball. His shooting had improved dramatically each year I’ve been here. I think his game continues to improve. I think he’ll continue to improve. He’s not close to what he will be. He’s 25 years old, but he’s gotten so much better each year that I’ve been here with him. I think he’ll be once again right there in the MVP conversation.”
Crawford was also asked about two Western Conference studs – Kobe Bryant and Anthony Davis. Bryant is coming off a season in which he averaged just 13.8 points in six games. Doug Gottlieb wonders if players are going to go at the 36-year-old Bryant a lot this year knowing he’s no longer the same player.
“I’m sure people want to get Kobe just for the simple fact that Kobe is Kobe Bryant,” Crawford said. “I remember Kobe getting at Jordan when Jordan was a lot of years into his career. And Kobe, honestly, wouldn’t want it any other way. He wants you to go at him because deep down he knows it’s going to make his game rise to another level and he accepts that challenge. He accepts all challenges.”
Davis, meanwhile, appears primed for a monster year – so much so that many feel the 21-year-old could become a top-three player in the league by the end of the season. Heck, he had 26 points, 17 rebounds and nine blocks in New Orleans’ season-opening 101-84 win over Orlando on Tuesday.
Is Davis as a top-three player a worthwhile conversation?
“I think it’s a conversation,” Crawford said. “I’m honestly not sure he’s there yet because there’s still some great players in their prime, but I think he’s definitely on the uprise. He’s a guy that will be reckoned with in the future.”