Can Spencer Hawes Be Successful at Power Forward in the 76ers Starting Lineup?
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Hawes will remain in the starting lineup as the team's go-to power forward and will join Bynum as only the league's third seven-foot starting front court duo. Collins insists that Hawes can emulate Pau Gasol's style of play and can find a level of success similar to that Gasol and Bynum had in Los Angeles.
The move makes perfect sense for the 76ers, as Bynum is arguably the second best center in the league behind Dwight Howard, and Hawes has never really found a consistent rhythm at the center position. Hawes had a stronger year last season, but his style of play does not mix well with the bigger centers in the league. Hawes is fairly big at 7' 1" and 245 pounds, but he tends to shy away from contact, and his low post game leaves much to be desired.
The good news for the 76ers is that Hawes actually prefers to shoot longer jump shots, and 57% of his shots last season came from mid to long range jump shots. The bad news is that his effective field goal percentage on jump shots is only 38.4%, so you can expect his shooting percentage of 48.9% last season will likely go down in the upcoming year.
Although his shooting percentage will likely decrease this year, it will not fall too greatly, as Bynum will draw a lot of attention from the opposing defense, likely giving Hawes more open looks.
Although Hawes is not a very physical player, the move to power forward will give him a size advantage against his average matchup. He was a solid force off the glass last year, with 7.3 rebounds per game, and coupling the addition of Bynum, the 76ers will likely be one of the better rebounding teams in the league next season.
In addition, Hawes registered 1.3 blocks last season. He will likely continue to be an efficient blocker, as he will be taller than most of his matchups.
Finally, Hawes is actually a very good passer in comparison to most big men, and this will allow him to provide Bynum with great opportunities to score, by drawing defenders out of the paint and being able to make a clean pass to the center.
He averaged 2.6 assists per game last season, but he is actually a much more effective passer than this statistic suggests, and the move to power forward will allow him to utilize this skill more often in the upcoming season.
Overall, the move will be a bit of an experiment, but Hawes does have the tools to be a successful power forward alongside Bynum at center.
If Hawes can stay healthy, it is likely he will actually find a much better rhythm at the power forward position. Furthermore, the size of the 76ers front court could lead them to cause problems for some of their rivals in the east.
It will be interesting to see how quickly Hawes adjusts to the new role, but it is only a matter of time before the move will pay dividends to the 76ers.
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