To say the the 76ers have struggled mightily to remain competitive over the last two weeks is an understatement. Over the last 10 games, the roster and head coach which Sam Hinkie assembled for this season have redefined the concept of tanking in professional sports. This past week, the season of the tank hit rock bottom as the Sixers became the second team in NBA history to lose by 40-plus points in consecutive games and their losing streak reached a season worst 8 games.
In addition to horrific defense and MCW’s shooting slump, a great deal of the blame for the steep nose dive the Sixers have taken over the last two weeks has been placed in front of Evan Turner’s locker. While there’s no doubt that Turner has played very poorly during the Sixers most recent stretch of pathetic basketball, I am here to tell you that he’s not the only veteran on this roster who deserves blame.
(I’m looking at you Spencer Hawes.)
The overall statistics for 2013-14 (13 ppg., 8.5 rpg., 3 apg. and TS% of 54.9) indicate that Spencer Hawes is having a career year (9/6/2 for his career). If you watch the 76ers on a nightly basis, the eye ball test will tell you that Brett Brown’s offense suits Hawes very well and that in general he has played some of the best basketball of his career this year.
However, if you dig a little deeper into the numbers, one learns that after a very fast November start in 2013-14, Hawes had a slight drop in production during December and a further drop in January. Despite his solid effort last night, Hawes’ February stats have fallen off a cliff.
Below is a chart looking at Spence’s 2013-14 numbers by month:
PPG RPG APG FG% 3P% TS%
Nov. 15.9 10.3 3.1 51.2 47.4 61.3
Dec. 13.3 7.4 3.4 46.2 40.0 56.0
Jan. 12.0 8.0 3.6 42.4 37.9 52.2
Feb. 8.9 8.6 3.1 32.9 29.2 40.3
A Few Notes on Spence’s declining play:
- After breaking the 23+ point barrier three times in the month of November, Hawes has posted only ONE game of 23 or more points between January 1st and last night’s game.
- In November, Hawes played in 14 games and posted 5 nights of 18 points or more. From January 1st through last night (37 games) Spencer has achieved that scoring bench mark only 5 times.
- Hawes has recorded 19 double-double this season. Nine of those jaw dropping outings came in the month of November.
- In November and December (27 gms total) Hawes scored less than 10 points a combined 5 times. When you look at his stats for January and the 7 games so far in February (23 gms total), you notice that Spencer has failed to reach the 10 point mark on 10 occasions. Four of those 10 disappointing scoring efforts have come in the last 10 days.
- A career 35% shooter on 3PAs, Hawes has hit 8-26 from deep in his last 7 games (30%).
So what’s happened to Spencer Hawes?
When I look at the video tape I notice two items working against #00. The first issue is that during January and February, Hawes has faced a gauntlet of solid NBA centers/bigs who don’t mind playing a little defense. Over that 23 game stretch Hawes has matched up with Robin Lopez/LaMarcus Aldridge; Kevin Love/Nikola Pekovic; Greg Monroe/Andre Drummond (2x); Joakim Noah; Chris Bosh; Tyson Chandler; Kevin Garnett and DeAndre Jordan. If you don’t know by now that Hawes struggles to score the ball against more athletic bigs, than you haven’t been watching very closely over the last 3+ seasons.
The second issue is that Spence’s usually smooth shooting stroke which was struggling in January, has gone missing in February. Last night (6-16 for 37.5% & 2-5 from deep) was an improvement over what we have witnessed so far this month, but Spence is still not himself. His “0-for” game last Sunday against the Clippers (0-8 FGAs / 0-3 3PAs) was the ugliest shooting display I have seen from Hawes all season and maybe the worst I have witnessed in his Sixers career. I’m certainly not a world famous shot doctor like coach Herb Magee, but one item I have noticed when I watch tape of Hawes is that his footwork has not been sound during this February shooting slump. Of late his puppies (to quote Bill Raftery) are frequently not set properly when he lets it fly. It’s an easy fix and I am sure that between Hawes and a shooting guru like Brown, the issue will be remedied quickly.
So what does Spencer’s slump mean for the Sixers?
Even with a highly productive Hawes in the line up, the Sixers were one of the worst teams in the NBA and only managed to win 6 games in November (6-11). So the good news is that as long as Spencer remains in this funk the Sixers will lose and lose big, racking up ping pong balls at an alarming rate as this unwatchable season stretches into the spring.
The bad news is that as Hawes continues to struggle, an already small trade market for the 7-6’s starting center will shrink to nonexistent. In the last week, I have spoken with colleagues who are NBA front office people or NBA scouts about the interest level in Hawes around the Association. As the trade deadline approaches, the demand for Hawes was described as “limited” by more than one of those NBA folks.
Getting anything of real value for Hawes — defensively deficient center who is an unrestricted free agent and can walk away at the end of the year — when he was playing well was going to be a very difficult move, even for a genius like Hinkie. When that UFA is suddenly struggling with his bread and butter jump shot, getting value in return for that player becomes virtually impossible.
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