'Spence-er! Hawes!' Chants Did In Fact Rain Down in Philadelphia

'Spence-er! Hawes!' Chants Did In Fact Rain Down in Philadelphia

The Sixers are the new hotness, have you heard? After getting a solid win over the Pistons in their home opener on Friday night and then beating the crap out of Toronto on Saturday night, Doug Collins' squad moved to 5-2 on the season and are the talk of many NBA circles around the Internet. Other teams in the East may have more wins -- Chicago, Miami, Atlanta, Orlando, for instance; or tonight's formidable opponent the Pacers -- but none of them are as efficient as the Sixers.

Nobody in the NBA is for that matter.

Right at the center of all of that amazing efficient play is Spencer Hawes. Yes, Spencer Hawes. The same guy who was used as a punchline (guilty) much of last season.

So how well has Hawes played after the first seven games of the season? Take a look at these numbers.

First, according to John Hollinger's Player Efficiency Rating, Hawes is the 13th most efficient player in the NBA, just a rebound or bicep curl behind the almighty Dwight Howard. (Nik Vucevic is No. 3 overall (!) behind only LeBron and Manu Ginobili)

But wait, Dave Berri of Wages of Wins Journal puts the numbers into context:

...we see that Hawes is above average with respect to shooting efficiency from the field, rebounds, assists, turnovers, blocked shots, and personal fouls. Hawes is below average at the free throw line (both in terms of getting to the line and efficiency). But his positives add up to a level of production nearly four times beyond the average NBA center.

Emphasis ours. "A level of productivity nearly four times beyond the average NBA center." How about that? From SPENCER HAWES.

Obviously, it will be tough for Spencer and the entire Sixers squad to keep up their incredibly efficient play when the schedule sees back-to-back-to-backs like this week and then later when they see tougher teams like Denver, Atlanta, and Miami later this month.

But for the time being, let the "Spence-er! Hawes!" chants rain down at the Wells Fargo Center. He's earning them.

>>The best team in the NBA is... The Sixers?? [Wages of Wins Journal]

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If you missed this weekend's action, here's what Andrew had to say about Spencer's fantastic showing in the home opener:

Again, Spencer Hawes was the best player on the court for the Sixers for most of the game. Spence notched his fourth double-double of the season—he had six all last year—with a 16-14 line that saw him scoring just about every way possible from inside the arc. After one long jumper, he even earned a "SPEN-CER HAW-WES!!!" chant from the fans, certainly a Wells Fargo Center first. He didn't score a single other point after that—though he just missed a three that would have absolutely brought the house down—but it was fantastic to see his impossibly improved play in person at the WFC, and I was proud of our fanbase for acknowledging him accordingly.

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One of the keys to Hawes' breakout start? How about working out with Shawn Kemp during the offseason?

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And here's Spencer on Lunch Break today talking about his hot start, the status of his back injury, as well as reacting to the crowd's love for him on Friday night.

Nerlens Noel to get one-on-one experience while Sixers on road

Nerlens Noel to get one-on-one experience while Sixers on road

Being immersed in the team is important for Nerlens Noel, and so is continuing his rehab. 

While the Sixers are on the road for three days to play the Grizzlies and Pelicans, Noel will remain in Philadelphia to work out at the training complex in Camden, New Jersey. The team is not scheduled to practice in between games, so staying back allows Noel another day to get on the court.

“[I want him to] just start playing more and have a ball in his hands, get hit, physical, feel people, play one-on-one,” head coach Brett Brown said.

Noel has yet to play this season because of elective arthroscopic left knee surgery in October. He rejoined the Sixers after completing the first phase of his rehab in Birmingham, Alabama. There still is no timetable for his return. 

Brown has said there is a “classroom” element to Noel’s return. He has to learn a roster with new players and schemes. 

The on-the-court side of it is a reacclimation to the intensity of the league. Regardless of how many games Noel already has played in the NBA, there is an adjustment period getting back into the grind of the competition. Brown believes the time in the gym this week will help Noel prepare for the level of intensity he will face in his return. 

“It’s such fool’s gold to think somebody’s going to jump back into NBA basketball after you haven’t played for so long. I don’t care how athletic he is,” Brown said. “It’s a man’s world, this league, and there’s a physicality and there’s a real-time reaction you have to have to play in the game. You can’t make that up in practice, you can’t make that up playing one-on-one, but you can better position him instead of just going out to get shots. I want him to feel a body, get hit, hit back, play one-on-one, those types of things.”

Noel had been assigned to the Sixers’ Development League affiliate, the Delaware 87ers, to get in practice time when the Sixers had a game. The Sixers may forego another assignment and keep Noel at their facility as the Sevens also have two games in the next three days. 

Joel Embiid finally struggles in Sixers' loss to Nuggets

Joel Embiid finally struggles in Sixers' loss to Nuggets

BOX SCORE

Joel Embiid has been making the NBA look easy. Rookie of the Month honors, five double-doubles in 13 games, seven performances of 20 points or more … all having missed the last two years rehabbing from foot injuries.

Embiid, though, still is a player learning the league. Night’s like Monday’s lackluster showing are going to happen, even if it seemed unexpected against the struggling Denver Nuggets. 

“We’ve been used to seeing Jo have superhuman nights,” Brett Brown said after the Sixers’ 106-98 loss (see Instant Replay). “I thought Joel was down tonight.” 

Embiid tallied a total 16 points (5 for 15 from the field, 1 for 3 from three, 5 for 6 from the line) with four rebounds, one assist, a career-high five blocks, three turnovers and three fouls in 25:32. 

He had a quiet first half with six points (2 for 5 from the field) and one rebound in 9:21. The biggest struggle came in the third quarter. Embiid scored a single point off a free throw and shot 0 for 6 from the floor. By the end of three, he was shooting 18.2 percent. 

The big man said he needed to be better at passing out of the double team. He committed two turnovers in the third. 

“I wasn’t getting to my spot and I wasn’t getting what I’m used to getting,” Embiid said of the first three quarters. “I’m going to go back and watch the tape and see what I did wrong.” 

Embiid bounced back for another Embiid-like offensive effort in the fourth. He dropped nine points off an efficient 3 for 4 shooting in 7:31. Still, it wasn’t enough. 

“I made a couple shots,” Embiid said. “It didn’t help us win, so I don’t think it matters.”

Brown noticed Embiid rushing his game. He also thought Embiid’s balance was off, something the big man has been dealing with all season as he continues to find his legs. 

Embiid will not play in Tuesday's game against the Grizzlies. It is part of his workload management in which he does not play both games of a back-to-back. Expect him to hone in on game film until his next matchup, and get back on the roller coaster that can be a first year in the NBA. 

“It's just part of a young man's growth,” Brown said. “It just happens. I don't think we need to read too deeply into it. I think, in many ways, to expect from time to time not as good of a performance as we have been used to is fair enough.”