The breakout star of the Philadelphia 76ers’ win against the Denver Nuggets in the first regular season game of the year was…Spencer Hawes? With Andrew Bynum’s ailing knees and “indefinite” timetable for return (cue Chase Utley type groans here), Spencer Hawes is poised to be the big man on the court for the foreseeable future.
So what does this mean for the Sixers?
Well, if last night is any indication, it could mean a lot of good things. Hawes looked good from every angle last night; after coming in for Lavoy Allen relatively early in the first quarter, Hawes racked up 16 points, 12 rebounds, 2 assists, and 5 blocked shots in his 31 minutes – the best performance on the court for the Sixers.
Spencer Hawes was the starting center for the Sixers 2011-12 season but with the addition of All-Star center Bynum, the 7-foot-1 Hawes was set play at power-forward this year. When it became evident that Bynum’s knee problems would keep him out longer than anticipated, coach Doug Collins had to move his lineup around a bit, choosing to start Thaddeus Young at power-forward and shifting Hawes to the sixth man on the bench. But with Bynum absent and Lavoy Allen looking to still be a bit green (as he’s only in his second year of playing in the NBA) Hawes got a chance to play up around the basket for the majority of the game.
And he did not disappoint.
The fans seemed to agree, as shouts of “Spen-cer Hawes!” and “MVP!” filled the Wells Fargo Center during the Halloween night opener. Not only was Hawes on point with his rebounding, he even managed to hit a few jumpers, one for a three. As a matter of fact, A LOT of the Sixers were shooting threes last night. Jason Richardson, Nick Young, and Dorell Wright all hit three pointers, which was a nice shot of adrenaline for the fans that aren’t necessarily used to seeing their team score that way. Jrue Holiday scored 14 points and racked up 11 assists, looking a little more like a traditional point guard than he used to. Wright had 14 points as well, and Thaddeus Young had 13. All in all, the Sixers looked very good in their first game, especially considering the fact that they were matched up against former teammate Andre Igoudala (who had 11 points, 4 rebounds, and 4 assists).
But all the talk seemed to center on Hawes. With the Bynum acquisition being the main talking point for the Sixers during the off-season, his absence from the start of the regular season could have been very anticlimactic. The 24-year-old Hawes didn’t have a great 2011 season, his first with the Sixers, although he did slightly improve in 2012. Still, most were ready to push Hawes to the side to make room for Bynum the All-Star. But Bynum’s right knee, in which he had previously suffered from a torn MCL, has been acting up. According to an official press release, his training as of late has been limited to “low-impact conditioning,” which doesn’t bode well for a player that will need to spend at least 30 minutes on the court (although he will likely be used for a lot more). So for now it appears that Hawes is going to be back at center, which, if last night is any indication, should work out just fine for the 76ers as they start their campaign to be one of the major contenders in the East. Even without Bynum, the 76ers team looked great last night, with all their new position players filling out their roles quite nicely. Watch out for Hawes, because he might just continue to surprise us all.
The Sixers next game is slated to be on November 4th, against the New York Knicks.Tags: Andre Igoudala, Andrew Bynum, Dorell Wright, Doug Collins, Jason Richardson, Jrue Holiday, Lavoy Allen, NBA, Nick Young, Philadelphia 76ers, Spencer Hawes, Thaddeus Young