Hawes an unexpected weapon for Brown, Sixers

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Hawes an unexpected weapon for Brown, Sixers

In the summer of 2010, the Sixers sent a disgruntled Samuel Dalembert to the Sacramento Kings for Andres Nocioni, who was beyond his prime, and a 7-foot center with three years of NBA experience in Spencer Hawes.

Three and a half years later, Dalembert is playing for his fourth team in as many seasons and Hawes is one of 11 NBA players averaging a double-double with 16.2 points and 10.2 rebounds per game.

It would appear the Kings gave up on the 10th overall pick of the 2007 NBA draft too soon, which has turned out to be a gift for the Sixers.

First-year head coach Brett Brown has been pleasantly surprised by the veteran center, who, by the way, is just 25 years old.

“He surprised me all over the place,” Brown said. “I see an extremely versatile player that is a hell of a teammate. And his ability to pass -- look at the backdoor cuts he's hit our guys on -- his ability to grow to the three-point line and change games like that, we've seen.

“Without Thaddeus [Young] we went to him a lot more, made him a target out of post. We saw a range of skills, from hook shots to drop steps and so on. I just think that he's a really good player that is young. His better days are ahead of him. I always feel guilty calling those guys veterans. They're not veterans. They're young players that have a decade left of good basketball in them.”

Hawes scored a season-high 28 points in the Sixers' loss to the Raptors on Wednesday, two shy of his career high. He also grabbed 10 rebounds in the defeat.

Hawes is absolutely a skilled passer, as we have seen over the past four seasons. But, the outside shooting Hawes is displaying this year is remarkable.

The seven-footer is shooting 48.9 percent from three-point range and he has made a team-high 23 threes. When Brown was hired, word quickly spread that his preferred style of play would be fast-paced with layups and threes being the goal.

Hawes decided at that point to work on his long-range jumper and that has paid off.

“Having the opportunity to show what you've been working on. A lot of guys get comfortable in the offseason and I think every offseason is an opportunity to improve one or two facets of your game,” Hawes said. “You continue to have that mindset and it pay dividends down the line, and you know sometimes guys kind of come out at different stages."

Doug Collins used to say that big guys need more time to develop into their NBA potential than guards. Hawes' development would certainly support the beliefs of the Sixers’ previous head coach. And when it comes to Hawes, there might be even more potential to tap into.

With Young tending to personal matters on Wednesday, Hawes shifted over to the starting power forward position. The move proved beneficial for Hawes and the Sixers, which is why Brown may use Hawes at the four spot more often moving forward.

“I think if you put him next to a legitimate center that he's a little bit or a lot a bit different,” Brown said. “Inevitably for me you just go straight to matchups. Is he guarding a mobile, quicker four? He might have some problems, like chasing Ryan Anderson around the gym isn't a great matchup for Spencer. But I can see how if you paired him next to a legitimate center he probably has a natural position as a power forward.

“Like I said last night, defensively is where there's more of a difference playing the four versus the five. Offensively they are pretty interchangeable with the way we play,” Hawes said. “The biggest thing is minutes, that's what people always say. So having the continued opportunity and the trust of the coaching staff and of the other players pays dividends."

Bryan Colangelo: 'Never a period of discomfort' with Sixers' bigs

Bryan Colangelo: 'Never a period of discomfort' with Sixers' bigs

CAMDEN, N.J. — The Sixers on Friday unveiled their brand new, state-of-the-art practice facility in Camden, New Jersey (see story).

Sixers president of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo, while speaking to media members at the ribbon-cutting ceremony, touched on a variety of topics. That included the team's surplus of big men, an issue that has been years in the making.  

One of the major questions surrounding the Sixers this offseason is how the team plans to utilize all three of its talented young big men in Nerlens Noel, Jahlil Okafor and Joel Embiid. With Embiid finally healthy and on track to play this season, the Sixers have some tough decisions when it comes to balancing playing time as well as maximizing each player's potential.  

There have been rumors throughout the summer that Colangelo has been actively trying to shop either Noel or Okafor because of his discomfort with having three big men on the roster. His comments on Friday cleared up the situation. 

"We're excited for the season. We’re excited to have three, talented young players that can play that position," Colangelo said. "I said something this summer that was somewhat tongue and cheek that was taken so seriously and everybody hung on that one word that I would be uncomfortable going into the season or absolutely uncomfortable, it was literally overstated so many different times. It was never a period of discomfort, in fact, it's actually comfortable knowing we have that much talent there.

"The discomfort comes in trying to manage and maintain the happiness of three talented young players and that’s something that I think will work itself out."

This offseason has been one of transition for the Sixers. The days of "The Process" are long gone, and the Sixers seem poised to finally become a competitive franchise again after years of tanking.

During their summer overhaul, the Sixers brought in nine new players in hopes of forming a roster that features actual NBA-caliber players that could compete on a nightly basis. 

The team now not only features a surplus of bigs, but for the first time in a long time, a healthy balance of talent at each position. 

"The availability of those players is going to be an experiment all season long, not just with the bigs but with this entire team," Colangelo said. "We’ve got a good mix of talent and there's going to be a lot of competition at every position."

Colagelo expressed that under the former regime ran by Sam Hinkie, the Sixers lacked any sort of competitive drive and identity, something that he emphasized greatly when first put in charge. 

"We really have brought some things to this team that I think was sorely lacking," Colangelo said. "One was veteran leadership, whether it's Gerald Henderson, Jerryd Bayless or bringing Elton Brand back. Playmaking ability between Jerryd Bayless, Sergio Rodriquez, Dario Saric coming into the mix, Ben Simmons — these are playmakers as much as they are good basketball players and scorers.

"So we’ve got a good mix of talent, but what we actually have will play itself out on the court in the coming months."

Sixers unveil new state-of-the-art practice facility in Camden

Sixers unveil new state-of-the-art practice facility in Camden

CAMDEN, N.J. — The doors to the Sixers' new training complex are officially opened, welcoming players into the 125,000-square-foot facility designed to be a one-stop basketball shop.
 
On Friday, the Sixers held a ribbon-cutting ceremony to unveil the sprawling building on South Front Street. After years of sharing space at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine (PCOM) on City Avenue, the organization now has its own dedicated facility. 
 
The complex was built with the intention of becoming a “year-round destination." The team has taken each aspect of daily life into consideration to provide players and staff with the resources they need on-hand in Camden.
 
“We’re trying to create a culture of not only excellence, but of maximum performance and trying to give them as many things that can help enhance that and get us there quicker,” president of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo said, also noting, “We’re not trying to trap them, but we’ve literally given them so many things that they may not want to leave.”
 
Players arrived at the complex ahead of the official opening, and many were there on Friday as tour groups circled through. Ben Simmons and Dario Saric were among those taking shots on the expansive courts, which account for 20,480 square feet. There are two full-size NBA courts and six additional baskets, comprised of over 16,000 pieces of maple wood athletic flooring.
 
With an extra emphasis on health and fitness, the weight room and training room are located next to each other right off the court. Their proximity fosters communication between the training staff with strength and conditioning coaches to easily discuss medical situations, whereas they were separated on different floors at the previous facility.
 
“It makes for a great place of what we call ‘continuity of care,’” head athletic trainer Kevin Johnson said on a tour of the building.
 
The Sixers now have increased medical resources available, including a dedicated physician’s room. They are implementing a videolink system which allows them to videoconference with players offsite and with other medical professionals. The team is also moving into ultrasound diagnostics to assess tendon health.
 
Right off the weight room are four hydrotherapy pools — cold water immersion, hot tub, warm lap pool/plunge pool and underwater treadmill that can go eight feet deep. The team took the height of the players into consideration when installing the pools. The jets on the hot tub, for example, were placed strategically for their wingspans. A video system in room allows the team to monitor pool work.
 
Following the goal of keeping resources in one place, a video room includes a dual-sided projection screen that enables players to review film directly from the court through glass walls.
 
The Sixers are honing in on nutrition and diet this season. They installed a full-service kitchen with customizable options based on the players’ needs versus a buffet meal. The organization found its head chef in an unconventional way — impressed by the food at the popular Philadelphia restaurant Parc, Colangelo inquired about its chefs and hired Jae Hee Cho.
 
And if the Sixers want to get some rest after a full day’s work, the team also may look into sleeping pods.
 
“I learned years ago they come here and it’s sort of the field of dreams. If you build it, they will come,” Brett Brown said. “You learn that they spend more time here because it’s convenient and they feel like they’re getting better. It’s a chance to bring families together. It’s a chance to bump into a teammate and go up and have lunch … get some shots together. The opportunity to have and form greater relationships exists here. I saw that in 2002 [with the Spurs] and I believe we’re going to see it again in 2016.”
 
The Sixers believe the new complex will set them apart from other teams around the NBA. Players consider more than just wins and losses when choosing teams in free agency, and this facility could give the Sixers an edge.
 
“In the business today, there’s so many things that you’re competing with with other franchises,” Colangelo said. “It’s become a little bit of an arm’s race, if you will, with respect to what player amenities you have, how you travel, what the practice facility is, what kind of creature comforts you give them. ... We’re doing everything possible to maximize performance not only of the players and the athletes, but also of the organization.”
 
The team incorporated aspects of its history in the complex. The reception desks at the main and player entrances are made of the wood from the basketball court of Wilt Chamberlain’s 100-point game.
 
The Sixers will hold training camp in Stockton University next week and then will begin practicing at the complex for the rest of the season.
 
“Part of building a winning team, an elite team is culture,” managing general partner Josh Harris said. “Certainly you need talent, but how everyone works together and how people enjoy themselves, that’s one element. The second element is having them available to experience all of the capabilities we can bring, whether it be training, massage, health, wellness, diet, sleep, there’s a lot of things we can put in their hands.”