A Spencer Hawes for Applause

Spencer HawesA Spencer Hawes for Applause

Usually you don’t see a giant look beyond the three point arc and say “I’ll try it.” However Spencer Hawes down in Philly is earning a living making defenders look silly. If points and rebounds are what you need bad, then don’t you dare overlook this lad. The other things he does that makes him so swell is the ability to block shots and assist so well. Quietly top 14 on the ESPN player rater, day by day his game grows greater. Of course we are talking about a man named Spencer, who has lost a great amount of weight and thus become denser. In the fantasy world you drafted him with cause because he truly is a Spencer Hawes for applause.

In all seriousness, Spencer Hawes has taken a gigantic leap this season. He has literally improved every single number across the eight major fantasy categories besides FT% and that’s down 3% to 74% (which is still good for a center). Like I mentioned above, Hawes’ collection of statistics has earned him a ranking inside the top 15 on the player rater. Right now, there just isn’t anyone like him in fantasy basketball. I love unique players and I want to take an in-depth look at fantasy’s #2 center right now (behind an injured Anthony Davis).

Considering Hawes is a center, if you were to look at his stat line, the number that would immediately jump out is the three pointers. He must have done some serious work on his jump shot this off-season. As a result of the Jrue Holiday trade, and losing Jason Richardson, it was evident someone else on the Sixers was going to have to pick up the scoring. They also were going to need someone else to stretch the defense like the two of those players because both could shoot from outside (although Richardson was more effective than Holiday). I suppose Hawes took it upon himself to develop that skill. Prior to this season, Hawes had never attempted more than 1.1 three pointers per game. Even if you factored in attempts per-36 minutes, his previous high was 1.8 in 2008. Also, in 2008 he played 29.3 minutes per game and last season he played 27.2, so he had experienced significant run before. With just a five minute per game increase in playing time (which is significant overall), he has increased his three point attempts to 4.6 per game! As a center! The crazier statistic is that his previous career high was 35.6% from beyond the arc which he tallied last season. As of today, Hawes is 16th in the NBA with a 44.8 3P%. Like I said, he must have spent the off-season working on long range shooting because it is at a whole new level it never even approached before (or showed signs of approaching). To put how unique his shooting is into context, he, Kevin Love and Carmelo Anthony are the only three players averaging 1+ 3PM per game and also averaging over 8.3 REB per contest. Carmelo is only averaging 1.1, Hawes is at 1.9 and Kevin Love is at 2.1 threes per game. Of those, he is the only one averaging over 0.6 BLK per game (but we’ll get to that). Just an amazing transformation to his offensive game.

Beyond the shooting, Hawes has also become a legitimate rebounder, shot blocker and passer. When I spent $10 for him in an auction, I expected him to produce a nightly double-double by default. After proving his health last season by playing all 82 games, and the lack of big men around him with Nelens Noel hurt, he almost had to by default. His minutes had to go up, and because he was the largest man on the team with some form of rebounding prowess, the numbers had to follow. Daniel Orton, the backup, has proven he is better in smaller spurts. Thaddeus Young is an excellent young player but has never really been a rebounding specialist. In the last two seasons, Hawes had averaged 10.6 and 9.5 rebounds per-36 minutes. So basically that wasn’t a surprise. The surprising numbers were the increase in blocks and assists. Hawes’ career average per-36 minutes is 1.6 BLK but his lack of athleticism had me doubting whether he’d ever get there. In rotisserie formats, there is a big difference between last year’s 1.4 and this year’s 1.6. Over the course of a season, 0.2 per game difference means a difference of 16 blocks in a season. In many of my leagues, categories come down to the separation of one or two in a statistic. Obviously though the major surprise has been the assists. His previous career high was 2.6 in 2011 but he only played 37 games. That small of a sample size, at 24 minutes per game, didn’t prove anything to me. Before that, he was always around 2.0 and his per-36 numbers were always around 3.0. This season, his per-36 assist tally is up to 3.4 and he is playing a full allocation of minutes. Just like the shooting, he has figured out that in order for his team to win, he needed to improve in that area. On a team devoid of talent, ball movement will be the key to victory. Bad teams aren’t going to consistently beat you off the dribble. Hawes is just a smart player and has developed his game to fit his team’s needs. There just aren’t many players in the game who have that kind of dedication. That is the reason he positively is a Hawes for applause.

Having transformed himself into one of the most unique assets in fantasy basketball, Hawes is an absolute delight to own. He provides you with point guard-like assist numbers, shooting guard-type three point numbers, small forward scoring efficiency, power forward-esque block numbers and a center’s rebound totals. Yes, the Philadelphia center is the total package. If you own him, don’t even think of trading him. Just jump up in the air and celebrate every second that he is on your team. Love each moment you own him because he truly is a Hawes for applause.

Let me know what you think of my Dr. Seuss soliloquy by commenting on this article or hitting me on twitter.

Author: Ricky Sanders, @RSandersFR

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