For most of last season, Marvin Williams was the starting power forward for the Utah Jazz. Some of the Utah faithful would have rather seen Enes Kanter in that role, but nobody can deny the impact that Williams had on that young Jazz team. He led by example and played through various injuries for most of the season, providing floor spacing for the Jazz by connecting on 36 percent of his attempts from behind the arc.
With NBA free agency kicking off, both sides have expressed a desire to continue their relationship. However, Williams’ steady play has also garnered the former No. 2 overall pick significant interest from contending teams like the Miami Heat. Should Williams elect to shoot for a title with one of the championship-level clubs or look to play with a superstar like LeBron James, a player the Jazz should consider as a potential replacement is Spencer Hawes.
Acquiring Hawes would be no small task; the Portland Trail Blazers are hot on the pursuit with last season’s playoff berth and proximity to Hawes’ offseason home in their favor. His most recent team, the Cleveland Cavaliers, are also determined to keep him in town where he could be a key component in new Cavs coach David Blatt‘s system. Other teams are in the hunt as well, and if Williams gets locked up, the Jazz should make sure they are one of them.
Frankly, Hawes could be an upgrade to Williams in a variety of ways. Though he is big enough to play at the PF, Williams prefers to play at the three. The physical toll of going head to head with bigger players on most nights is apparent in Williams, and he would be the first to admit as much. The effort is always there, but when he’s going up against guys like LaMarcus Aldridge or Zach Randolph on a nightly basis, there’s only so much Williams can do defensively.
Hawes may not be able to match Williams’ defensive gumption, but there is no substitute for being 7-foot-1 and nearly 250 pounds. He’s also been a consistently better rebounder throughout his career than Williams, which could benefit a Jazz team that struggled to clear the defensive glass last season. But make no mistake about it; the real reason you put a call into Hawes’ people is that he hit on nearly 42 percent of his three-point attempts last season. He is a legit deep threat (something the Jazz sorely need) and big enough to spend time at the four and the five spot.
This is the kind of versatility the Jazz have sought out in recent years and will be an important attribute to have in a Quin Snyder offense that figures to be heavy on pick-and-pop play, transition scoring and will require players with an ability to stretch the defense.
Is this the sort of move that makes the Jazz a playoff team next season? Probably not. Will Jazz fans in the mostly-conservative state of Utah appreciate the fact that Hawes has been documented using toilet paper with President Barack Obama’s face printed on it? Perhaps.
One thing is certain—the Jazz are among the teams with the most cap space in the league, and using some of that money to sign a player like Hawes just makes sense. He’s a player that fills a need and, at 26, can be a part of their growing nucleus for years to come. It could be a tough pull, but if Utah’s attempts to acquire the top pick in last week’s draft are any indication, Jazz GM Dennis Lindsey has a “nothing ventured, nothing gained” mentality. Hawes would definitely be a worthy venture for the Jazz.