By Brandon Pemberton
Follow me on Twitter @BrandonOnSports
Okay let me be the first to admit, I wasn’t the biggest Spencer Hawes fan from the day he stepped foot into the NBA. Anyone who’s followed me on Twitter and Facebook knows so. I thought he left college too early, playing one season before putting his name in the 2007 NBA Draft. He was drafted by the Sacramento Kings with the 10th overall pick in the first round.
So Hawes came into the league as a 19 year old kid with a nice set of skills for a player his size. At 7 feet tall, he had shown good ball skills for a center. He was a advanced passer, ball handler and outside shooter. Of course he was thin and needed time to develop into a grown man and add strength to his frame, but he spent too much time on the perimeter for my liking and didn’t bang in the paint or defend. In his four seasons with the Kings, he averaged 22.5 mpg, 8.3 ppg, 5.5 rpg, and shot 46.4% from the field and 63.5 % from the line. He wasn’t panning out for the Kings, so they ended up sending him to Philadelphia before the 2010 NBA Draft, along with Andres Nocioni and received Samuel Dalembert in return.
When I seen the trade go down, I was happy that Dalembert and his big contract was gone. Dalembert’s act had gotten old here in town and it was time for him to roll, but I knew at the time that the Sixers weren’t getting much in return. Nocioni had his few good years in Chicago and was done, while I knew that Hawes was just another soft, jump shooting big man, who didn’t defend or rebound. The Sixers already had one of those on the roster in Maureece Speights and really needed a big who actually play like a big man.
So Doug Collins was hired as the Sixers new head coach for the 2010-11 season and Hawes was named the starting center from day one. He played and started in 81 games, averaging 7.2 ppg, 5.7 rpg, and 0.9 bpg in 21.2 mpg for a team that went 41-41, made the playoffs as a seven seed and eventually lost to the Miami Heat 4-1 in the first round. It was frustrating watching the Sixers get pounded on the glass on both ends of the court, along with teams just having their way in the paint offensively. Hawes had played last season as he did in his prior 3 seasons with the Kings, SOFT.
Hawes was a free agentat the end of last season and I wanted no parts of this guy coming back after last season’s subpar performance. I was under the impression that he was what we’ve seen from him in his four seasons in the league and had no upside what so ever. But maybe I was wrong, Hawes is playing his ass off 5 games into this strike shortened 2011-12 season. Before the season started, my homie Nairann (@Nairann34 on twitter) was giving Hawes praise and telling me he was due for a big season. Me being me, told him how Hawes was mediocre and better yet, he stunk out loud. Well Hawes is playing the best basketball of his life and is putting up 13 ppg, 11.4 rpg, 3.6 apg, 2.2 bpg and he’s shooting the lights out at a 67.4% rate.
I know it’s only five games into a 66 game season, but if Hawes is going to play at this level for the whole year, the Sixers really have a chance to finish 5th or 6th and possibly win a round in the playoffs. I was looking for improvement from the likes of Jrue Holiday, Evan Turner, and even Thad Young. There wasn’t even a thought the Spencer Hawes would get better at all, but he’s proving me wrong so far by providing the Sixers with rebounding, defense, and he’s hitting the mid-range jump shot in Mike Gminski like fashion.
I’m not trying to jinx the guy, but if he keeps up this kind of play, he will definitely be in the running to make the All-Star team at the center spot. He might not make it, but his name will be brought up. And finally, he’s only 23 years old…..maybe he’s finally there physically and this is what the Kings thought they were getting when they drafted him ten overall. Or maybe as my warroomsports.com family member Jimmy “The Blueprint” Williams said: “It’s amazing what a contract year does to players.”Either way, I’m really looking forward to seeing if he can keep this up for a whole season and the impact it can have on this team.