Dammit Spencer Hawes Stop Teasing Us Like This

Dammit Spencer Hawes Stop Teasing Us Like This

On March 3rd of this year, exactly four weeks ago to the day, Spencer
Hawes had the worst game of his career, and arguably one of the worst
games ever posted by a starting center in the National Basketball
Association, at home against the Golden State Warriors. In about 20
minutes of game action, he scored 0 points on stunning 0-9 shooting,
with four rebounds and two dimes, but also three turnovers and three
personal fouls. (Amazingly, the Sixers still won the game somehow.) It
was an absolutely embarrassing performance in an already disappointing
season that made you wonder if Doug Collins was going to gently,
tenderly asphyxiate him as he slept on the team plane that night,
putting him out of both of their misery.


Since that game, Spencer Hawes has basically been Marc Gasol.

OK,
that's not really true—Gasol has the defensive-anchor bonafides that
Spence, at his best, simply never will, as anyone who watched Hawes
whiff on blocked shot after blocked shot as a help defender in the last
two games against the likes of Kemba Walker and Shaun Livingston will
attest. But if you gave Spencer Hawes' stat line over the 16 games since
the Golden State humiliation to an impartial observer and asked them to
name the player responsible for it, Memphis' all-around beast of an an
All-Star center would be the most logical guess. I mean, look at this
thing:



That's 16 games for which Spence is averaging 15
and 10 a game, on 53.5% shooting along with 50% from three (!!!) and
even 84% from the foul line, to go with about four assists and two
blocks a game, and just two turnovers and 3.4 personal fouls in 32
minutes a night. Those aren't just All-Star numbers; if he had them for a
full season they'd be putting Spence in All-NBA discussion, better than
(or at least comparable to) the lines posted by the likes of Joakim
Noah, Tyson Chandler and (yes) Marc Gasol. Again, Spence will never have
the all-around defensive impact of those three stars, but when you're
getting statistical production of this caliber from your big man, it's
hard to be too critical.


This should be cause for excitement, right? After all, despite being
in his sixth NBA season, Spencer is still just a
young-and-impressionable 24 years old, not hitting the quarter-century
mark until late April. He's signed for another year with the Sixers for
an unexorbitant $6.5 million, and with no assurances for the future with
Andrew Bynum, to have a backup plan (for next year and after) like this
version of Spencer Hawes could give the team a ton of options when
figuring out where their team goes from here. And hell, he's helping
them win games—after losing their first five after the Golden State
game, the team has gone 7-4 since, including the team's first three-game
winning streak since early February, cemented with the team's most
recent victory over the Bobcats.


Unfortunately, Sixers fans have seen this movie before. At the
beginning of last year's lockout-shortened season, Spence looked like he
was going to fulfill Yahoo hoops writer Adrian Wojnarowski's prediction
of winning the year's Most Imrpoved Player honors. He averaged a
double-double over his first eight games, on league-leading 63%
shooting, with three assists and a couple blocks as well. Then injuries
slowed down his season, and when he came back, seemingly fully healthy,
he was back to the player he was the year before—bringing it some
nights, disappearing others, showing flashes of a blue-chip player but
never doing it with any degree of consistency.


And after three years as a Liberty Baller, that's what most of us
have taken to be the norm with Spencer—inconsistency. Like the Sixers'
other tease of a lottery pick, Evan Turner (who, incidentally, has also
come to life a bit lately, scoring 20 in back-to-back games for the
first time since January), it's impossible to trust that the Spence we
see when he's draining jumpers and finishing on putbacks and running our
offense from the high post is the same one we're going to see this time
next week, or next month, or next year. Seemingly at a moment's notice,
he can lose the range, let himself get pushed around inside, and try to
force passes as a distributor, turning into a liability on both ends of
the court.


In the eight games that preceded his recent hot streak—all Sixer
losses, besides the Golden State catastrophe—Spence averaged just nine
points sand seven rebounds on awful 32% shooting, with as many turnovers
and assists, just one block a game, and 0 three-point makes. Even if
this is his longest stretch of quality play—and 16 games is nothing to
sneeze at, certainly—there's simply no guarantee that his level of play
next year, or even for the rest of this season, will come anywhere near
this. Every game is a new opportunity for Spence's play to start
regressing back to the mean.


At this point in the season, when it's too late for an improved
Spencer to do anything for us but cost us ping-pong balls in the
lottery, it's hard not to be a little angry at this guy for teasing us
once again. We'd finally contented ourselves that the Big GOPper was
just never gonna be that good, that his miserable defense would always
outweigh his sporadically inspired offense, that his pedigree and
potential was always gonna come with too many caveats to be worth
investing in. But now here we are again, wondering "Well, maybe this
time it's for real?" And maybe it is—possibly maybe—but given Spence's
past history, you'd have to be described with a "G" word that you can't
find in the dictionary to believe it with any seriousness.


At the very least, Sixers fans should be thankful that Spence is
under contract with the team for another season, since it means there's
no chance (less of a chance, anyway) that the Sixers will reward his
recent hot play with a short-sighted, long-term-damaging multi-year
contract extension, as you know they're just itching to do. Do it for a
whole season, Spencer—next season, perhaps, if you're so inclined—and
then we'll have some degree of faith that you're the real deal. Until
then, we wish you'd stop strutting around all coy and peacock-like on
the court when we know it's all just gonna end in frustration and
disappointment.

NFL clears Peyton Manning of HGH allegations

NFL clears Peyton Manning of HGH allegations

NEW YORK -- The NFL says it found no credible evidence that Peyton Manning was provided with HGH or other prohibited substances as alleged in a documentary by Al-Jazeera America last fall.

The league said the quarterback and his wife fully cooperated in the seven-month investigation, providing interviews and access to all records sought by investigators. Manning vehemently denied the allegations when they were made late in the season.

Manning retired from the NFL a month after Denver's 24-10 win over Carolina in Super Bowl 50.

The NFL is continuing its investigation into allegations made against other NFL players in the documentary, which the league said involves "different lines of inquiry and witnesses."

Eagles CB Jalen Mills rocks a green hairdo, says he kind of likes it

jalen-mills-hair-green.jpg

Eagles CB Jalen Mills rocks a green hairdo, says he kind of likes it

Seventh-round draft pick Jalen Mills was one of the standouts of the Eagles' offseason program, quickly climbing the depth chart and impressing on the field. But on the first day of training camp, the rookie cornerback stood out for a far different reason.

As you can see, Mills' hair is green.

The LSU product turned some heads and even got a few chuckles from onlookers. Don't expect that to persuade him to go back to a more conventional look anytime soon though. Mills said he got the color done about a week ago and thinks he'll stick with it.

"Just joking with one of my friends," Mills said of how the new hairdo came about. "Then the joke, I actually came through and I actually kind of like it a little bit, so I'm gonna keep it for sure."

As for Mills' teammates, well, they've got jokes too. Let's just say the green hair has inspired some new nicknames for the first-year defensive back.

"Green Goblin. The Joker. I've heard Lime Green Skittle. Starburst," Mills said, rattling off some of the nicknames going around the locker rom. "I've been getting an earful."

Of course, Mills isn't the first Eagles player or even defensive back to sport team pride by changing the color of his locks. Cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie showed up to training camp with a green stripe in his hair back in 2012.

Hopefully it works out better for Mills than it did DRC, who went on to have a disastrous season. Fortunately, the 22-year-old seems to have his head on straight and is not merely vying for a roster spot, but perhaps serious playing time this season.

Mills opened up the first day of training camp with rookies and selected veterans by breaking up several passes, building on a strong offseason that saw him working with the first-team defense as the nickel corner. As for how he's gone from late-round pick to in the mix so fast, Mills credits hard work, along with his coaches and teammates.

"Just being focused and being determined," said Mills. "We've got a great coaching staff helping me, great players in the defensive back room as well, just everybody being able to help me put my first step forward.

"I'm really trying to give my all for this team and it's showing through."

It's showing through quite literally at the moment.

Video of Joel Embiid arm wrestling Justin Bieber exists

usat-embiid-bieber.jpg

Video of Joel Embiid arm wrestling Justin Bieber exists

He may or may not have crossed paths with Rihanna or Kim K. just yet but Philadelphia 76ers social media sensation Joel Embiid locked arms with pop star Justin Bieber over the weekend in a Los Angeles night club.

According to social media reports, Embiid and the Biebs actually competed in an arm wrestling battle at Hyde night club in L.A. It's unclear if Embiid allowed Bieber to win or not.

If you missed Embiid ripping his shirt off and dunking on fools or praising Sam Hinkie as a GOAT over the weekend as well, surely you'll want to check those out as well.