Sixers considering starting Hawes over Allen

Sixers considering starting Hawes over Allen

January 25, 2013, 3:15 pm
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There could be changes afoot in the Sixers’ starting lineup beginning with Saturday night’s game against the Knicks.

Looking to get more production from his frontcourt, coach Doug Collins is pondering whether to move center Spencer Hawes back into the starting five. Given the way Hawes has played over the past month coupled with the Sixers’ penchant for slow starts, a change might be overdue.

“You’ll have to talk to Coach about that,” Hawes said. “My lips are sealed.”

But is Hawes the right guy to move into the starting lineup? Sure, his numbers dwarf those produced by starting center Lavoy Allen, whose lack of production has been a disappointment. That’s actually putting it mildly because in his last 12 games, Allen has attempted just four total foul shots and averaged 5.4 rebounds.

Those aren’t exactly acceptable stats for a starting center in the NBA.

But with Andrew Bynum out and still rehabbing his bilateral bone bruise in both knees and Kwame Brown a virtual non-factor, Allen doesn’t have to look over his shoulder to see Collins giving him the hook.

There is Hawes, though. In the last 10 games the seven-footer has averaged nearly 12 points and seven rebounds in 28 minutes off the bench. He also has shot 51.5 percent from the field during that stretch and is a legitimate threat from three-point range.

Still, if Hawes is placed back in the starting lineup after 42 straight games as a reserve, what does it do to the Sixers’ already thin bench?

For Hawes, who had a bit of a rough adjustment period at the beginning of the season in adapting to a new role off the bench, the possible transition shouldn’t be difficult.

“It’s not much different,” Hawes said after Friday’s practice at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine. “Last year that was the group I ran with and this year, a lot of times I don’t start with them but that’s who I’ve been with. I’m comfortable in both scenarios.”

Before the season began and before Bynum was injured, Collins and the Sixers contemplated a lineup with Hawes as the starting power forward alongside Bynum. In that scenario, Thad Young, one of the team’s most consistent performers, was back on the bench.

However, when Bynum wasn’t ready to go at the start of the season, everything changed. Hawes was moved to the bench where he has played a hybrid version of center and power forward, and Young and Jrue Holiday have been Collins’ most reliable players.

Lately, Hawes’ production has been solid and because of that he may force the coach’s hand into making a move.

“Spencer has been great. I’ve been very, very happy with him,” Collins said. “He’s been playing with confidence, he’s running the floor well — I see a joy that Spencer is having fun playing. I think that’s important with any player. I think Spencer appreciates the way we try to utilize him here and play to his strengths and minimize his weaknesses.

“If you start looking at the centers in the NBA, Spencer is damn good. He’s a good player.”

Nevertheless, with a 17-25 record and time slipping away ever-so quickly on a season once filled with so much promise, Collins doesn’t have much wiggle room when it comes to experimentation. It just might be the time to put the best five out there at the start of the game and roll the dice.

Richardson out

Even if Collins does not swap Allen for Hawes with his starting lineup on Saturday night, he will have to make a starting lineup change. That’s because veteran guard Jason Richardson says he will not play in the game against the Knicks in order to rest his injured left knee.

Richardson, who turned 32 last Sunday, has been hobbled by a variety of nagging injuries all season. A sprained ankle troubled him the first week of the season and again during December. Last week he had fluid drained from his knee and was out for three of the Sixers’ last 10 games.

“It’s been very frustrating for me,” Richardson said. “I pride myself on being healthy, being in shape and being in the best condition every year I come in and it’s been like that for my entire 12 years in the NBA. I think the thing is that when you get a little bit older and you get those nicks and bruises, you have to treat your body a little bit better."

Additionally, reserve guard Nick Young sat out of practice on Friday with an achy hip. Young is expected to be ready to play on Saturday.