Brown says he wants the Sixers' effort to match the city
Spencer Hawes is now in his fourth season with the Sixers. (USA Today Images)
It's just three games, but one cannot ignore the start Spencer Hawes has had in what is now his seventh NBA season. The Sixers' starting center is averaging 19 points and 11 rebounds. He's made 6 of 12 three-point attempts and the seven-foot, 25-year-old can flat-out pass.
“Look at Spencer Hawes and the start of the year he has had,” Brett Brown said after the Sixers defeated the Bulls Saturday night to improve to 3-0 (see story). Hawes hit a jumper with 5.9 seconds remaining to give the Sixers a 107-104 lead which was the ultimate outcome.
Michael Carter-Williams has been phenomenal. Evan Turner is leading the team in scoring with 23 points per game, but don’t sell Hawes short for his contributions -- especially with his rebounding.
Hawes came to the Sixers in the summer of 2010 via a trade with Sacramento, and his reputation was one where he could shoot and pass but he wouldn’t bang and didn't go to the glass as often as he should.
On top of having that reputation, he became part of a team that rebounded by committee.
Elton Brand led the Sixers with 8.3 rebounds per game that 2010-11 season. Hawes, Andre Iguodala and Thaddeus Young all pulled down five-plus boards per game.
Brand is long gone. Iguodala, too.
Now Brown is challenging his veteran players with a fresh voice and Hawes is hearing him and responding. Hawes has found a grit and toughness about himself that previously was dormant.
“That was one of the big goals I made this offseason,” Hawes said. “I knew more was going to be asked of me not just offensively, but really on the backboard. The older guys are gone and it was going to be time for me to fall into that roll and be more consistent.”
In addition to setting a goal for himself as a physical rebounding presence, Hawes says experience is helping him rebound more efficiently, as well.
“As you get older you kind of learn positioning,” Hawes explained. “You become a smarter rebounder so it does not take as much effort to eek something out.”
“We all know that you can’t do anything with pace until you secure the ball and he is a big part of that,” Brown added. “Apart from him having great rebounding games, he passes well once he rebounds. He can make long passes. He can thread needles. He is an excellent passer. He can take one or two dribbles to break out of the pack as well so in addition to securing rebounds he actually initiates breaks.”
Hawes likes to joke that his summer regime got him prepared for the role he is playing on Brown’s squad.
“In the summertime I play point guard all the time,” Hawes said with laughter. “I love trying to go coast to coast with a pass. Brown has given us that freedom to initiate the break and I think it is a responsibility but one we look forward to.”