A beard. A mullet. An oaf. A streaky shooter.
Who really is this guy?
Does he shoot threes or does he score inside? Does he set screens and roll to the basket, or does he slip screens and shoot jumpers?
Hawes came to the Philadelphia 76ers as a 22-year-old potential-filled big man from the Sacramento Kings in exchange for Sammy Dalembert. At the time, Hawes was sold to Philadunkia nation as the center of the future and a building block for this young roster. But, fast forward to today and Sixers fans know what Hawes is: an inconsistent NBA player who probably does not deserve a $6.5 million annual salary.
But, then he plays games like he did against the Indiana Pacers on Saturday night that makes one wonder, ‘How good could Hawes actually be?’
Consider for a minute that the Sixers starting center put up 18 points, 16 rebounds, 8 assists and 7 blocks against a tough and talented Pacers front line. We’ve seen glimpses of his potential before, but this time Spencer produced those staggering numbers against a much respected opposing front-court of Roy Hibbert, David West, Tyler Hansbrough and, at times, Paul George.
Saturday wasn’t the only game that Hawes has impressed in, recently. He’s racked in double-doubles in five of the team’s last 10 games and he’s averaging 13.2 points and 9.5 rebounds over those contests. Aren’t those the numbers of a viable starting center in the National Basketball Association?
But then there are the bad games from Hawes. Like when he went scoreless and grabbed just 4 rebounds against Golden State and put up just 6 points and 5 rebounds against Miami — both disappointing performances came in that same 10 game stretch. And, who can forget the wide-open bunny that Hawes missed during the waning moments of the Sixers loss to Miami?
This season has been overshadowed by a different 7-1 center who hasn’t played in a single game this season for the 76ers. But, if Hawes was able to consistently average the 15 points and 10 rebounds per game that he’s basically putting up in March, this team and Sixer fans might not be focusing so much on Bynum. Instead the story might be: the Sixers are competing for a playoff spot even without Bynum!
Moving forward, Jure Holiday and Thad Young are clearly the cornerstones for this franchise to build on. Hawes has one year left on a contract that is frequently viewed as ridiculous, so his future here in Philly is very much up in the air.
Maybe he’s just starting to realize that he will need to produce like this to receive another contract of his current one’s stature. Maybe he’s just finally realizing his potential. But, Most likely, Hawes will probably keep us guessing and thinking, “What the hell.” when we see his final box scores every night.
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