The New Orleans Hornets utilized the NBA draft to make huge improvements to their team for next season and years to come.
In drafting Anthony Davis and Austin Rivers, the Hornets appear to be well on their way to developing the talent they will need to be competitive in the Western Conference, but one area of need that they have yet to fill is that of starting center. The team will likely have to look elsewhere, as it seems that free agent Chris Kaman is not looking to return to the Hornets.
The Hornets are simply in need of a big center who can play next to Davis and allow him to develop fully as a power forward in the NBA.
At 7'1" and 245 pounds, Spencer Hawes would give the Hornets an experienced starting center whose size alone would pair well with Davis. Although Hawes is not the best name in the free-agency pool, he is a talented and young (24 years old) center who has flown under the radar for the early days of free agency.
Hawes averaged 9.6 points on 48.9 shooting, as well as 7.3 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 1.3 blocks in just over 24 minutes per game. Although he can not carry a team or dominate the paint, he proved with the Philadelphia 76ers that he can be a very serviceable center who still has potential to improve.
Since the Hornets are looking to build their team and allow their younger players the time they need to improve, Hawes could be a low-risk center who could improve into a strong contributor in the future.
Hawes does not have the best post game, but he is a pretty good shooter who can draw opposing bigs out of the paint in order to cover his mid-range shot. In doing so, he may be able to create space for Davis to work inside, and provide a solid option for support scoring. Hawes is a fairly reliable free-throw shooter, converting on 72.7 percent of his shots, but he rarely gets to the line due to his infrequency of utilizing the post.
Hawes has the tools to be a very good defender, as he is a big seven-footer and is really beginning to improve on the defensive glass. However, he has a reputation of shying away from contact, so he will need more strength and toughness to really improve on the defensive end of the floor. The Hornets luckily have Davis, who will have a very strong defensive presence in the paint and whose intensity could rub off on Hawes.
The Hornets don't have a lot of options at center, but they are going to need to bring in a true center in order to allow Davis to avoid the wear and tear that comes from having to match up outside of his position.
Hawes provides a solid offensive options and size on defense that could really help in the development of the Hornets. He is a young enough player that the team can take the time to develop him alongside Davis, and in a season or two have a very successful frontcourt duo.
Due to the lack of news about Hawes during free agency so far, it appears that he may not be garnering too much attention from other teams, which would allow the Hornets to possibly attain his talent for an affordable salary.
He has the potential to develop into a 10 point and 10 rebound per game player, and at this point in the rebuilding of New Orleans, that is all they really need. The Hornets should at least explore the idea of bringing in Hawes to help fill the void they have at center for the upcoming season.
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