Sixers turning heads against strong teams
Spencer Hawes' current three-point streak stands at 15 games. (USA Today Images)
The book on James Anderson is that he was a very good basketball player. But he wasn’t necessarily great at anything.
When the three-year NBA shooting guard was drafted by the San Antonio Spurs with the 20th pick of the 2010 draft, the team didn’t know what they had.
“We drafted him with the idea that he was a scorer. He was an athletic wing,” said Sixers coach Brett Brown, who was a Spurs assistant when Anderson was drafted. “Maybe he was a shooter, maybe he was a driver, maybe he was a good offensive rebounder.”
How about a floor spacer? Or the guy who has been able to pull the defense away so Spencer Hawes can get his three-point shots?
Anderson is second on the Sixers with 25 three-pointers — just one behind Hawes. However, the seven-footer is shooting a deadly 49.1 percent from beyond the arc and Anderson is shooting 34.7 percent from deep after going 1 for 10 in the loss to Indiana on Saturday night.
Since going 6 for 8 on threes for a career-high 36 points in the overtime victory over the Rockets on Nov. 13, Anderson is shooting just 10 for 37 (27 percent) from three-point range. On the other hand, Hawes is hitting his three-pointers at a 9 for 19 clip since the game against the Rockets and has hit at least one three in every game he’s played this season.
Give an assist to Anderson for Hawes’ great shooting by drawing the defense away from the big man. Anderson made 225 three-pointers in three years at Oklahoma State. He also has 16 NBA games where he’s hit at least two threes. So even though Anderson isn’t regarded as a great deep threat, he’s enough of one to draw enough attention.
That’s all the space Hawes has needed.
“I really didn’t know he could step out and knock down that shot until I got here,” Anderson said about Hawes’ shooting. “I figured out where he likes to get it when he goes out to shoot the three. Playing with him was really different because not many [big men] do the things he does.”
It’s not just a one-way street, either. Anderson has attempted 72 three-pointers, which is the 10th-most in the NBA. Additionally, Anderson is hitting his two-point shots at nearly 55 percent. Give Hawes an assist there.
“If he hits threes, it gives me a driving lane and I can just catch it and go,” Anderson said. “When he pops out to the top of the key, it opens it up for me and [Michael Carter-Williams] and that’s definitely a good thing.”
The Fab Five
Injuries and other issues have plagued the Sixers through the early part of the season and made it difficult for coach Brett Brown to put together a consistent lineup.
Only James Anderson, Lavoy Allen and Evan Turner have appeared in every game.
As a result, Brown has had his opening night starting lineup of Anderson, Turner, Spencer Hawes, Michael Carter-Williams and Thad Young for just eight games.
In those eight games, the group has been rather productive. In an average of 22.1 minutes together in those eight games, the starting five averages 48.1 points and nearly 12 assists on 19 field goals per game.
Just a quick look at the stat sheet shows how good Spencer Hawes has been through the first month of the season. But for Hawes, it’s not just the numbers.
It’s the consistency.
Hawes has hit a three-pointer in each of his 14 games this season and for 15 straight games going back to last season. Since the three-pointer was instituted in the NBA for the 1979-80 season, there have been 14 streaks by five Sixers players longer than Hawes’ current streak:
Dana Barros, 58
Kyle Korver, 28
Jodie Meeks, 25
Allen Iverson, 21
Hersey Hawkins, 20
Spencer Hawes, 15
Meanwhile, only two players seven-feet tall or taller have hit more career three-pointers than Hawes. But with 139 threes in his career, Hawes likely won’t catch the two players in front of him.
The Mavericks’ Dirk Nowitzki has 1,364 three-pointers going into Monday, and the Knicks’ Andrea Bargnani has 594.
When informed of his standing, Hawes rightly pointed out that he had the American record.