How important is Spencer Hawes to the Sixers?
If you have been following the NBA this season, and have been paying attention to stories other than ones revolving around a team in New York, you might have noticed the Sixers are playing their best ball in quite a while, and have many intriguing stories of their own. Their leading scorer is a bench playing combo guard, Iggy made the allstar team besides having one of the worst seasons of his career in terms of just PPG/RPG/APG, the defense is acting like they listen to Freddie Gibbs before every game, and……….. Spencer Hawes??!?!?!?!?!?!?!?! I was traveling recently and was staying with some people who are Philadelphia sports fans, and they were bashing Hawes, and all they did was bring up “how he is always injured” (Yeah I know playing in at least 71 games a year before this current injury, including 81 last year is such an injury prone player) and “He is soft.” Now being the rational person I am, I kept quite until the Sixers embarked on a three game losing streak, and with Hawes is still going to be in a boot for the next week and a half at the least, I decided to research how valuable Hawes really is. First stop? Basketball-Reference.
Since the 14 game sample size is still a small one, I know regression is likely to occur, but just go with me. He has an 16% assist percentage, not only a career high, but is also comparable to the like’s of Pau (sitting at 15.1 for this year, in line with his tenure as a laker), Dirk (13.1%), David Lee (12.1%) , and Greg Monroe (14.9%) to name a few high calibre players, and even with an expected 2-3% drop by the end of the year, would be very solid. His Ts% was rocking out at over 58%, which is especially impressive due to his low FT% of 61%, however due to that low number, that will be hard to maintain. What is the most interesting thing I noticed is that his defense had gone from passible in terms of DRating to really good at 94 (points allowed per 100 possessions, average is 100, the lower the better, and vice verse for offensive rating.) Another fun stat is that while posting the best numbers of his career, his usage rate (percent of teams shot’s a player takes while on the floor, in a vacuum 20% is average) was easily his lowest, at under 18%. Now let’s go to 82 games.
No big deal for his shooting, just shooting 80% inside, in terms of eFG, while a respectable 48% of his jumpers are going in on the same metric. He is also averaging .72 blocks per foul, which is better than Emeka, Cousins, Aldridge, and Varejao. Now, his number isn’t elite by any means, and the players compared there are either super foul prone this year (Mek, Cousins), or not shot blockers (LAMA, Varejao), but it is certainly a passable figure, and one that is nice to have in a “soft” player. He also averaged 4.9 assists per bad pass, so is’s nice to see his decision making be decent in that regard. He also has only committed 4 offensive fouls, which considering the offensive foul is the most depressing thing to do in basketball is pretty good. His on/off numbers are concerning though, so it’s not like he is the key player on the team. Anyway, let’s move on to hoopdata, shall we?
One of the main reasons I like hoop data is that they do a much easier to digest representation of the shot’s a player takes, they divide shot types into ‘At Rim’, 3-9ft, 10-15, 16-23, and 3’s. I am just gonna list his fg% at each range, and note that 16-23 and rim are his two highest attempted area: 74/59/37.5/56/37.5. He get’s assisted on more than 75% of his scores, but still from a pure spot up idea you gott love all of those besides 10-15, which also doubles as his least attempted shot besides the three ball. All of these numbers besides the 10-15 are likely to regress, but still should be very healthy number. he is also averaging around 2.2 defensive stops a game, which is steals+blocks+drawn charges. Anyway, I can’t resist anymore, must go full nerd. SYNERGY TIME.
His 1.01 PPP (points per possesion) ranks 41st in the NBA, highlighted by 1.17 on spot up shots and 1.27 as a cutting man. He has some downside in the non shooting areas (turnovers, he simply doesn’t draw many fouls), and he is not a transition player at all, but solid stats there. On the defensive spectrum, he actually does fairly decent on post up’s, he limits his man to just 45% shooting (although he does foul at over 10%) and is a capable spot up defender. Don’t let the man guard big’s who can create their shot or play the pick and roll though, as he get’s abused on both, each with above 60% shooting.
I realize I have painted a rose tinted picture of Hawes, and he does have his flaws (inability to create his shot, stamina, not getting to the line at. fucking. all.), but this season he has shown the ability to be a very solid role player, one that is a competent defender and a decent shooter who will likely face regression upon his return, but still would either start or be a primary backup big on almost any team in the league based solely on this year.
Burn something today