Spencer Hawes and Jackie Butler were side by side, but not quite in the way the Kings may have hoped.
Instead of being teammates as a result of a three-team trade that would have sent Mike Bibby to Cleveland and brought forward Drew Gooden to Sacramento, Hawes was still the Kings' draft pick and Butler was suiting up for Houston on Saturday night at UNLV.
Not that it's the first time this has happened. Former Kings assistants Elston Turner and T.R. Dunn recently joined former head coach Rick Adelman in the Lonestar State before Butler. He came close to becoming a King before the deal fell through, and San Antonio (Butler's former team) moved on in discussions before eventually doing a deal with Houston.
All of which made it interesting to see Hawes and Butler match up. Butler -- a 6-foot-10, 260-pound big man out of the Coastal Christian Academy in Virginia -- showed some promise in the post while hitting 4 of 6 shots for 10 points. Hawes struggled at times with Butler's size, all while firing away on the other end en route to a 6 of 18 shooting night.
In this setting, no one on the Kings' coaching staff wants the prized pick to be shy. But Hawes seemed almost too determined to spark his offensive game, sometimes to the point of forcing shots. The worst case in the first half, when he called for the ball then shot an off-balance turnaround jumper from the top of the key ... with 10 seconds left on the shot clock.
In all, though, Hawes has shown more than enough to create the consensus that he'll turn into a quality NBA player. His skills in the post and beyond are what impress scouts, as Hawes is deliberate and effective in finding a good look when the ball is his. As is the case with most rookies, there is much work to be done with the nuances of the game. Against the Rockets, he sometimes forgot to call screens for his teammates on the wing and was guilty many times of setting half-hearted picks on the offensive end.
As Hawes said upon arrival in Sacramento, he's looking far more capable of providing stiff competition for Kings opponents than being anything close to a stiff himself.
- Sam Amick