As Camp Nears, Hawes Enters Unfamiliar Territory

  • By John Comey, Day 1, 2024

Kelvin Hawes has been The Man for some time now.

Now, he has to start acting like it.

With the rebuilding (or reloading, depending on who you ask) project in Kansas City entering it’s second stage of precocious young fawns fresh to the meadow, Hawes can look around and see a stunning amount of inexperience. Hawes and Shandon James are the only players on the roster who have more than four years of experience. Jaylen Barker has been in the league for four years, but only a starter for one (last year, with Kansas City). Juan Maurice, brought back on a two-year contract this offseason and the presumptive starter at center, has three years of backup experience to his credit.

The rest? If you look past Alexei Davydov’s two seasons, and Grant Council’s two years of mostly watching, nobody on the roster last more than a year under their belt.

Ten players on KC’s roster have a year or less of experience. Realistically, only highly questioned point guard Matt Mueller from last year’s rookie class got a full year under their belts. Dejuan Brooks did not see regular time until the second half of the season; the team has to wonder if he made an initial leap, or if they caught lightning in a bottle with him. Marko Dujmovic played only a few games before going back to the land of the DNP. Tyler Smith claimed full residency there. Joshua Gilmore played, but did he, really?

And now, this roster…this franchise…turns their gaze to The Man.

The Man does not want The Role.

Hawes, reserved and introverted by nature, shies away from attention. In the past, he was able to. He had players like Aaron Honeycutt, Curtis Price, Malik Benjamin, and ol’ Tarvis to take The Role.

Now? Well, these feisty youngsters may be rearing to get all fired up and start leading…but come on. This team is centered around Hawes. Everything the franchise does is set to the best player in the league.

Unfortunately (for Hawes), when you are The Man, as he is across the league, you are expected to be The Man. The Leader. The Boss.

It comes with The Contract.

This does not come naturally to Hawes. He can give you some of the answers. Personally, he is personable. He is engaging, even funny. He is never mercurial, never anything other than polite to the media.

But a leader? If you point to his play and production, sure. If you point to the podium, Hawes will point to the door.

Then he will walk through it.

Hawes has entered the stage of his career where, even at just 27, he is a veteran with a lifetime of experience. He is entering his twelfth season. He has been a multiple-time All-Star, All-JBL pick. He has been the MVP, and will be a frontrunner for that award this year.

But what happens when all of the questions come to him? Is any reporter going to want Brooks’ take if the Knights struggle early? Who wants to know what Council thinks about the team’s inability to get out of the first round (six straight exits in the first round, including in each of the last three seasons). Does anyone care what James has to say about anything? Everyone knows he’s just renting space and collecting a check.

The people want basketball answers from Kelvin Hawes.

And now, he has to answer them.

Oh, to be The Man.