Sunday, February 23, 2014

Good Bye, Spencer Hawes, And By All Means, Please Let The Door Hit You On The Ass

Someone Else's Problem, Thank Sam
At the NBA Trade Deadline, Sixers GM Sam Hinkie took out the trash for a passel of second round draft picks and expiring contracts, and it went about as well as any of the remaining 27 Sixer fans in the world could have (realistically) hoped for. He kept the two guys on the current roster (Michael Carter-Williams and Thaddeus Young) that might actually be part of a good team in 2-3 years, made sure that Arnett Moultrie had to get minutes in the last 27 games to show the team whether or not he's worth anything, and set us up for a 27-game stretch run that will probably be something like 4-23, ensuring that we're going to have the second-most lottery balls in the hopper for the best draft class in recent memory. Combine this with continuing poor luck for the New Orleans Pelicans (currently holding the 11th worst record in the league, riding a 3-game losing streak that could get them a few steps lower, and with rampant injuries), and the 2014 NBA Draft could be good times for a franchise that hasn't had any for longer than my dog has been alive.

So, before we endure the next eight weeks of suck, and then two more months of draft speculation, I'd like to take a moment to celebrate the best moment for Sixers fans in 1,341 days -- the first day that we haven't had to hold our collective noses and root for Spencer Freaking Hawes.

How much do I dislike Hawes? Let me count the ways. First, there's his offensive game. Do you like it when a flat-footed 7-footer with passing skills lines up outside the 3-point line and fires away? I kind of hate it, and always have, since you are basically taking a shot without what should be a decent offensive rebounder anywhere near where the ball might be recovered. I also kind of hate it because it seems like such a bailout for the defense; it's not like they are really thinking that they need to stop the offense from settling for that. In the last two years Spence has belched up 3.8 of those per game, and while he's hit enough of them (39%; this year's mark puts him around 30th in the league by way of percentage), it's not like he's freaking Dirk Nowitzki out there. It also means that what should be happening (free flowing offense aided by a guy who can move the ball and see over the defense) doesn't happen.

Well, OK then, his offensive game challenges sensibilities, but it's a modern age without good centers anymore, and there any number of sabermetric wonks who will tell you that 40% from the arc is a winning move. And Hawes is tallying up 13 / 8.5 / 3.3 this year, which has to be worth something, right? Well, no; the Sixers play at a pace that's among the highest in the league, which means that the raw totals here don't really matter, because they are inflated by a factor of something like 30%. Plus, he's doing this in 31 minutes a game, which isn't exactly a paucity of opportunity. Add in the meh that is 1.1 blocks per game, the as good as anyone else in the floor for so much steals of 0.6 per game, and the putrid 1.5 assist per turnover ratio, and you start go understand why he just leaves so much to be desired.

On defense? Um, he's a flat-footed 7-footer with the desire of a man who has made $29+ million dollars working for teams (Sacramento and Philly) that have lost games hand over fist. He doesn't get meaningful block or steal numbers, he doesn't pass the eye test, and, well, I have no third part to this, because Spencer Hawes sucks an awful lot at defense.

So, OK, he's terrible: similarity scores that mention such hallowed names as Bryant "Big Country" Reeves, Marc Jackson, Vitaly Potapenko and Brad Lohaus (Brad Lohaus!) does not exactly inspire any reasonable amount of conversation. But the Hawes Problem goes much deeper than this, really. When high draft picks (Hawes was the 10th overall pick in 2007, by Sacramento) become middling contributors in the NBA over a long career -- and make no mistake about it, Hawes will be in the Association for another decade, especially if he keeps making threes and doesn't cause a stink when he stops being a starter -- you can't help but look to see what else is there to have caused him to go high in the first place.

And with Hawes, there is actually a lot, beyond the fact that 7-foot people who can play basketball are rare. He's had any number of really solid games, stretches where he's not just the best big man in the game, but one of the biggest big men in the league, period, even with the sieve-like nature of his defense. Don't believe me? Just check the game logs: 24/9/2 to stop Miami in the opener this year, 5/8/3 in the meltdown against the Warriors in game 4. 28/10/3 against Toronto on November 20, 2/4/3 against the Clippers on 12/9. 25/11/2 against the Bucks on 12/21, two games after a back to back with Brooklyn that was just awful to look at, 9/3/2 against Cleveland on 1/7.

Oh, and he's been healthy all year.

There's a name for this kind of guy loser. And there's a name for the kind of organization that plays for, or trades for, this kind of guy, even when they give up the seemingly marginal cost of second round draft picks: extra special losers. And the fact that it was Cleveland who dealt for him? Well, let's just look at the "work" he's done against them in his career.

18 games, 13 starts -- 8.9 / 6.2 / 2.2.

No, seriously. This is what Cleveland traded *for*.

Oh, and that's not even getting into the redneck asshat political crap, and the Obama toilet paper, and the meathead tweets, and so on and so on, which has got to make him such a winning presence in the 70%+ African-American NBA locker room. You know the guy that needs to bring his politics to the workplace, despite the fact that no one wants to hear it? Hawes is that guy, in a workplace filled with people, who, um, don't share his views, background, or beliefs. And he shares all of that despite being more erratic and untrustworthy than a harcore pothead.

Of course, had we simply listened to the wisdom of the Stephen A. Smith Hand Puppet in 2007, we'd have saved us all a lot of time and trouble. Skip to the 3-minute mark.

So, good bye and good riddance, Spence. I'm thrilled to have the chance to join the rest of the NBA public in hating and dismissing your crappy, crappy game, your increasingly migratory ways, and the knowledge that you are never, ever, going to be part of a winning rotation.

And Sam Hinkie?

Dude, the fact that you found a team that was willing to take this away for anything buys you at least another year of tanking "fun." Especially when Spence either helps the Cavs to lose more games and make that second round pick better, or he actually cares and tries for a few months, and gets the Cavs in front of the Pelicans in the lottery...

(P.S. Cavs are now 0-2 in the Hawes Era. Keep it up, Spence!)

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