Last night Spencer Hawes was simply amazing. I watched from my modest throne (courtesy of the Sixers new ownership) as the 7-footer grabbed 6 rebounds in the first quarter of play, slapping high-five to the middle-school aged kid a few seats down. At his young age, he probably is limited in his knowledge about one-year qualifying contracts or the initiative that they can tend to inject into a young athlete, but his expertise about the game of basketball was on showcase as the adolescent shouted to the top of his lungs "Spencer Hawes is a beast!"... We were in agreement.
Before the 76ers disposed of the Pistons, Hawes grabbed 8 more rebounds and delighted the hometown crowd to the tune of 16 points and 4 assists. I hate to admit it, but i probably was twice as loud and enthused as the recess-advocating preteen when we joined the other 19,000(plus) Philadelphians in attendance in chanting the name of the former Washington Husky. The only thing i can remember of Hawes last night that was less than superb was losing the opening ceremonious tip thrown by new owner, Joshua Harris (which we could argue was stolen by standard NBA rules).
Surprisingly, it was just another night at the office for the center as he averages almost 12 points and almost as many rebounds through the first 6 games of this shortened season. Even more surprisingly, he is making teammates around him better. Andre Iguadala was nowhere to be found last night, almost as usual. BUT, no one missed him. The longest tenured Sixer recorded just 5 points, 4 rebounds and 4 assists in over 30 minutes of game action. But because of Hawes' performance, i actually forgot to complain about that(until now?). Early in the game, the kid in my section asked aloud, "Why does Jodie Meeks start?". Rather than give him an over-his-head explanation, i sat back and waited for Meeks to explode... he didn't. That is, not until the fourth quarter. Hawes started to gain attention from Detroit Pistons head coach, Lawrence Frank, and started to face defensive help when posting up. Hawes, unfazed by this, simply utilized his extraordinary passing skills to swing the ball the perimeter players, resulting in 3 deep connections from Meeks, personally.
Philly fans should be excited about the big man's play not only for the numbers he will put up, but for the opportunities it will open up for the other players on the team. A shooter like Meeks, and others like Holiday, Williams, and Iguadala(self-proclaimed) who can knock down open shots are in for some good looks. Also, if he can stay active on the boards, our wings can start to run the floor and open up our transition game. The 7-6 were very impressive down the stretch last season, even without effective post play. Hawes' emergence should scare a lot of eastern conference teams.
Tonight, we have a date with Atlantic division foes, the Toronto Raptors. Andrea Bargnani will provide Spencer with a different look tonight as he will not likely have to deal with a lot of post-banging in this match-up. Bargnani, like Hawes, can take his game to the perimeter and stretch the floor. Keep a close eye on this match-up.