When the Kings signed Chuck Hayes after the lockout, it was widely seen as a great move by both local and national pundits. Here was a veteran who could provide leadership, teamwork and defense, all things a young Kings team needed.
However during the past two years, Hayes hasn't exactly lived up to the hype. He's definitely been a good defender, but former coach Keith Smart used him almost exclusively as a bench player against the other team's second unit, which takes away his greatest strength: guarding the opposing team's best big man. By playing with the second unit, he also saw a lot of time next to guys like Thomas Robinson, James Johnson, Travis Outlaw or Patrick Patterson, big men who were either undersized or playing out of position.
He's also probably Sacramento's second best defensive rebounder next to DeMarcus Cousins. Thompson is probably the closest, but both Patterson and Landry are subpar. Hayes' rebounding numbers have suffered a bit in Sacramento because of the aforementioned pairings with guys like Johnson & Outlaw. The Kings were the worst defensive rebounding team in the league last year, and Hayes can help.
One of the primary reasons for not starting Hayes is that he's very limited offensively. He has no range outside of the paint, and while he's a good passer, he turns the ball over at a high rate too. When you can't hit a jumper and you can't really drive into the paint, it's a lot easier to guard against the pass from the high post.
Unfortunately for Hayes, I don't see this trend of not playing much changing any time soon. He probably should have played much more the last couple seasons, but this year the Kings finally have a glut of big men who can play. Patrick Patterson can light it up from outside, Jason Thompson is capable on both ends of the floor and Carl Landry was recently signed to a long-term deal with the Kings. It's hard for me to see Hayes beating those three guys for playing time other than in specific situations. There's only 48 minutes to go around at both PF and C, and unless the Kings do something different, like using Patterson at SF, I don't see where Hayes gets the time.
Hayes best chance for playing time probably lies in the fact that Mike Malone is now coaching the team, and Mike Malone is a defensive minded coach. According to 82games.com, the Kings defense was 6.2 points per 100 possessions better with Hayes on the floor. MySynergySports provides more detailed individual numbers: Hayes gave up just 0.74 points per possession (PPP) and a field goal percentage of just 36.5%. That puts him at 20th best in the league. Against the post-up, he allowed just 0.73 PPP (53rd) and 35.2%.
Hayes is way too good of a defender to simply rot on the bench. The Kings should either find a way to utilize him or trade him to a team that will.