Thursday, December 27, 2012

The Six Games A Year Of Spencer Hawes

Making His Marc
Tonight in Memphis, the below .500 Sixers took the floor on the second game of an 8-game road trip against a  Grizzly squad that's been one of the better teams in the West this year. They were without starting shooting guard Jason Richardson, who has given them much more than expected this year, and with second-year center Lavoy Allen in the lineup at center, against what might be the most powerful front line in the NBA. Allen went 2 for 6 with 6 boards and 4 fouls in just under 27 minutes.

So you know what happens next, right? Sure. The exact opposite of sense. Philly won by 10 to get back to a game below .500, giving the Grizz one of their worst losses of the year. And the headlines will belong to Dorell Wright for going off on an 8 for 11 night, including 5 of 8 from the three point line, to give the team 28 highly efficient points. But more importantly, look at this line from bench player Spencer Hawes -- 20 points on 9 of 14 shooting, 8 boards, 1 assist, 3 steals (!) and 5 blocks (!). All in just over 31 minutes, against the likes of All-Star Marc Gasol and matchup nightmare Zach Randolph.

Now, if Hawes were ever able to be the guy in his uniform tonight -- not all of the time, but maybe every other game or so -- for any regular period of time, he wouldn't be a bench guy. He also wouldn't be on his second team, on another one-year contract, for a below .500 team that has spent the first 29 games of the season waiting around for an injury-prone enigma center. Because, well, they would have never traded for that guy in the first place. They'd just start Hawes and accept a top 5 center performance from a 7'-1" 245 pound guy, who is still just 24. They'd also be selling his jersey and likeness all over the damned place.

Now, I have no idea why Hawes is, well, one of the most maddeningly erratic players in the NBA. If you told me he was a spectacular pothead, that he didn't really like basketball, that he had a chronic back injury that hit him with crippling pain, that his conditioning was sub-par, or that he simply detested head coach Doug Collins and has to really struggle for minutes and motivation... well, all of that seems plausible. Some of it even gives you hope, since they'd fixable and suddenly give you the keys to a pretty great talent.

Instead, we get this: one of the six games a year or so where Hawes is the best player on the floor, for no good reason at all. And that kind of thing happens all the time for a bunch of bench players (JR Smith, Jamal Crawford, Jason Terry, Ryan Anderson, Lou Williams, to name a quick five) across the Association... but none of those guys are 7-foot centers.

I don't know what's wrong -- or right -- with Hawes. I just know that in games like this, when he is, in the words of Sixer color analyst Malik Rose, "Hawesome", the Sixers are a top tier team in the East. And if Collins could ever get those six games a year to turn into 25 or 30, or if he could ever group a bunch of them into a playoff series...

Well, we'd have something a hell of a lot more interesting than a random December road win against the Grizz.

And a very, very different winter in Philadelphia...

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