What do Spencer Hawes and a popular children’s story have in common?
They both feature homes (Spencer’s being his inner, self home), built of weak splinters of lumber that are easily breakable.
It’s not a well-kept secret that Spencer Hawes is not the toughest kid on the block, or in the paint. It’s also not a secret that Hawes, though adequate offensively, has a long way to go before becoming a true ‘Man in the Middle’. He’s soft. He has the gooey center of a Fig Newton. He is the type of center players like Shawn Kemp used to pry on. He has no fortitude, no anger. Nothing deep down that winds him so tight that he is left walking a fine line between insanity and Kevin Garnett.
In the two preseason games this year, Hawes has built a decent rapport with his teammates on the offensive end. Sixer fans (however many there are of you left) have seemingly come to expect that. With the young Jrue Holiday establishing himself as the next line of eccentric point guards and Evan Turner’s continual improvement on last years playoffs, the 7-6 are praying continuity pushes them to the next step of the NBA journey.
Hawes is an integral part of this continuity and an important piece to the 76ers puzzle.
With a well-rounded mid-range/shooting game for a 7-1 center, he has the tools to become a decent ‘offensive’ center in the league. Especially with his recent development of what some experts would call a ‘post up game’. Even with a new wrinkle in Hawes’ offensive gameplan, he needs to go from the 7.2/5.7/53% (free thrown percentage) guy, to a 10/10/70% (free throw percentage) full contact, no excuses center. In the Sixers two preseason games, he has done almost that averaging 8/11/50%.
Keeping that going would be nothing but a breath of fresh Philadelphia air.
But for the Sixers to take that proverbial ‘next step’ and improve their seeding in the Eastern Conference, Hawes needs to find some of that aggression that makes players like KG unstoppable on defense. He has to commit to that. He has to take the time to work on that side of his game. Realizing that defense gets you further than offense, sometimes comes with age, but regardless, for Hawes to become a better all around player (and receive a better contract in the future), he needs to study defense. He needs to develop quick feet. He needs to learn how to be smarter than his offensive matchup. He needs to learn when to slide over on helpside, when to try blocking a shot, and how to keep a posting big, out of the paint.
The faster Hawes moves out of his house built on sticks, to a mansion built of bricks and stone, the better the 7-6 will be.
Hopefully Doug Collins can create an anger within Hawes; even if it means showing highlight after highlight of him getting abused.