Sixers Have Better Options Than Starting Spencer Hawes Alongside Andrew Bynum

Alec Nathan@@AlecBNathanFeatured ColumnistSeptember 4, 2012

PHILADELPHIA, PA - MAY 16: Spencer Hawes #00 of the Philadelphia 76ers has a shot blocked by Brandon Bass #30 of the Boston Celtics in Game Three of the Eastern Conference Semifinals in the 2012 NBA Playoffs at the Wells Fargo Center on May 16, 2012 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images)
Drew Hallowell/Getty Images

The Philadelphia 76ers' roster is replete with fresh new names, but it's a familiar face that has been the hot topic of conversation in recent days.

In an expected move, head coach Doug Collins has gone on record stating his desire to start former center Spencer Hawes at the power forward position alongside the newly acquired Andrew Bynum.

Hawes and Bynum aren't exactly the most attractive frontcourt pairing the Sixers are capable of boasting, and Collins' seemingly quick decision has some fans puzzled.

Yes, it's practical to start two seven-footers for a number of reasons. Most notably, it gives the Sixers a serious height advantage over opponents, something they have lacked for nearly 10 years.

It's difficult to blame Collins for wanting to duplicate the sexy Pau Gasol-Bynum frontcourt duo, but with all due respect to Hawes, it's going to be difficult for him to replicate Gasol's success.

Hawes' game is conducive to playing through a superstar like Bynum, mainly because of his keen ability to dish the ball and find players cutting off of pick-and-rolls. However, it's his inability to hit shots consistently, along with his shaky post moves, that figure to be troublesome.

If Hawes isn't the answer in the starting lineup, then who is?

The solution is pretty simple, and it's one fans can get behind right away.

Thaddeus Young has long been relegated to bench duty, albeit serving a very successful role, but his unique set of skills and versatility make him a more logical play alongside Bynum.

In addition to being a more viable offensive weapon, Young is also a much more capable defender than Hawes.

Young is undoubtedly shorter than most conventional power forwards, but his huge wingspan (listed at 7'1'' by and uncanny ability to frustrate opponents have made him one of the most diverse frontcourt players in the game.

Surely slotting Young in at power forward gives the Sixers a smaller lineup, but Bynum is a stable enough force in the middle that any size disadvantage could be mitigated.

However, if Young is going to start at the power forward, there will have to be some other changes to the starting lineup as well.

While it's not clear who's locked in as the starting 2 and 3 at this time, many prognosticators figure Jason Richardson and Evan Turner will get the starting nods.

With Young as a starter, Richardson would figure to slide back to the bench, and into a reserve role. Instead, Turner would play the 2, and Collins could start the newly acquired Dorell Wright at the 3, giving the Sixers more length and athleticism on the perimeter.

In Wright, the Sixers would have a 6'9'' swingman capable of defending more athletic small forwards, but they would also not be sacrificing any of the offense they would potentially lose by shifting Richardson to the bench.


So, where does all of this leave Hawes? It's tough to say at this point, because as we've seen in the past, Hawes isn't very capable of holding down the frontcourt by himself. A reserve pairing with Kwame Brown is possible, but that sounds like everyone's worst nightmare. One guy who can't play offense and one who can't play defense isn't exactly ideal for a team looking to become a contender in the Eastern Conference.

Hawes' role off the bench is a difficult one to peg, but it's clear he would need to play with a boatload of shooters and preferably Bynum (while Thad sits), leaving him with several guys to play off of.

Surely it would be easier to start Hawes and avoid shuffling the lineup over and over, but the idea of pairing Young and Bynum together feels like it could be truly beneficial in the long run.

After signing Young to a five-year pact worth $42 million last December, it feels like it's finally time for Collins to let Thad see the spotlight, where he can display the game that earned him that big pay day.