Spencer Hawes: The Invisible 7-Footer
Over the course of the last few months, the 76ers have undergone a bevy of changes on their roster and in the front office. Most notably, Olympian Andre Iguodala was involved in a three-team deal that sent Andrew Bynum to Philadelphia.
Since that time, most of the conversation has revolved around the 24-year-old seven footer’s role in the organization. However, there has been little discussion regarding the other starting 24-year-old seven footer, Spencer Hawes.
Hawes has been playing center his entire career. However, coach Doug Collins has proclaimed that Hawes will now be shifted over to power forward, a position he has never played before. What makes the switch even more interesting is Hawes had arguably his best season last year while manning the middle.
Hawes started off the year with a bang, garnering four double doubles in the first two weeks of the year. At the end of the season, Hawes achieved career highs in rebounds (7.3), assists (2.6), and blocked shots (1.3) despite nagging injuries to his Achilles and back.
What makes the move so interesting is that Hawes has not been much of a defensive player. He’s too slow for quicker players and has a tendency to be bullied in the paint. However, Hawes has demonstrated the potential to be a quality shooter.
For example, in 2008-09 he attempted 114 three point shots and made 40 of them. Good for just shy of 35 percent. He’s also shooting just under 47 percent from the field for his career.
Consequently, I believe that moving Hawes outside could greatly benefit his skill set. By having Bynum on the floor, Hawes will likely have an advantage in size every single night. This will make his shots harder to block and provide Hawes with a better advantage on the glass, which is one of his strong suits. Additionally, as wonderfully detailed in this piece by Rich Hofmann, the Sixers can use Hawes as a set up man for Bynum in a similar vein as Pau Gasol.
Given all of this, I believe that while Hawes will struggle early to adapt to covering a new area on the floor, he will ultimately be better off for it. As a result, I’m predicting he’ll improve on his career highs in assists and rebounds while averaging just over ten points a night.