Grading Spencer Hawes' Early Performance with Cleveland Cavaliers

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Grading Spencer Hawes' Early Performance with Cleveland Cavaliers
Jennifer Stewart-USA TODAY Sport

The trade that sent Spencer Hawes from the Philadelphia 76ers to the Cleveland Cavaliers was viewed as one of the bigger deals at this year's deadline.

Cleveland took a risk by sending two second-round draft picks to the Sixers for Hawes, knowing he's set to become an unrestricted free agent this summer. Despite the gamble, Cleveland knew they needed an additional big to help fill in for the injured Anderson Varejao.

Part of the fire sale that was the Sixers this season, Hawes provides excellent outside shooting and floor spacing for a 7'1" center.

Hawes is now nearly a month into his Cavaliers' career, helping Cleveland fight for the last playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

It's still early, but how has Hawes performed in his 11 games with the Cavs?

 

Shooting

We know Hawes has evolved into an elite shooter for a big man, connecting on 39.9 percent of his three-pointers for the Sixers this season.

With Cleveland, he's been even better.

Hawes is converting 2.2 of his 4.5 three-pointers per game for the Cavs, good for 49.0 percent. While this is a very small sample size, it's worth noting that this kind of success rate would not only lead the NBA this season, but rank as the 11th best percentage of all-time.

As it stands, Hawes' overall three-point mark of 41.7 percent for the 2013-14 season ranks tied for 10th among all NBA players.

That being said, anything inside the arc hasn't been as pretty for Hawes. While with the Cavs, he's converting just 46.2 percent of his two-pointers, a number that would signify the lowest of his career.

Overall, one can't complain about a center that's knocking down nearly half of his three-pointers. Bravo, Spencer.

Grade: A

 

Rebounding

Hawes has been a solid rebounder throughout his entire career, thanks to his stocky 7'1", 245-pound frame. He doesn't carry the weight of some of the larger NBA centers, but his solid, muscular physique is tough to move in the paint.

With Cleveland, Hawes is grabbing 9.5 rebounds in his 33.5 minutes per game. This translates into 10.2 boards per 36 minutes, slightly up from the 9.8 per 36 he pulled down in Philly. This is an even more impressive number when one considers how much time Hawes spends outside the paint on offense, thus severely limiting his chances at offensive rebounds.

Hawes' defensive rebound percentage is a cool 25.7 percent, ranking him second on the Cavs behind Anderson Varejao (27.2 percent). This puts him on par with fellow NBA big men Pau Gasol (25.7 percent) and LaMarcus Aldridge (25.5 percent).

While he doesn't pull down many offensive boards, overall Hawes has been solid on the glass for the Cavs.

Grade: A-

 

Passing

There are few big men who can make the kind of passes in traffic that Hawes can.

Among all NBA centers, only Joakim Noah is averaging more assists per game (4.9) than Hawes (3.1). Unfortunately for Cleveland, this number has dropped to 2.2 assists per contest with the Cavs. While this is a noticeable drop off from his time with the Sixers, it still ranks third among all centers behind Noah and DeMarcus Cousins.

Because Hawes spends so much time at the perimeter on offense, he can see the floor better than the typical center can. This improved vision helps lead to better passes and more assist attempts. Hawes also uses a three-point shot fake to get past his man and drive to the basket. This causes another defender to slide over and help, thus leaving a teammate open for Hawes to pass to.

Despite his drop in assists, Hawes remains one of the league's best passing bigs.

Grade: A-

 

Defense

This is where Hawes can struggle.

While he collects the occasional blocked shot (1.2 per game with Cavs), Hawes isn't a very strong post defender.

This was especially evident in a March 7 loss to the Charlotte Bobcats, one where Al Jefferson abused Hawes for 28 points on 12-of-18 shooting.

With Cleveland, Hawes has a defensive rating of 106. While this certainly isn't good, it is slightly better than the 108 he registered with the Sixers this season.

Hawes provides some rim protection, but isn't quite big or mobile enough to handle some of the better centers in the league.

Grade: C

 

Team Impact

While Hawes has brought a lot to the Cavaliers from an individual standpoint, the team is just 4-7 since his arrival.

Christian Petersen/Getty Images

This certainly isn't on Hawes, as he's put together 16.2 points, 9.5 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 1.2 blocks per game in Cleveland. His scoring, as well as his 18.2 PER, both rank second on the Cavs behind Kyrie Irving.

The biggest non-stat contribution Hawes has brought to Cleveland has been an improved spacing of the floor. Because opposing centers are forced to come out and guard Hawes on the perimeter, it opens up more space for players like Irving to drive the lane. Since the trade, Irving's shooting percentage is up from 54.9 to 56.8 percent while inside five feet of the basket.

Having Hawes on board gives Irving a good pick-and-pop partner to work with. Irving was averaging 6.2 assists per game before the trade, compared to 6.9 a game after.

While the record isn't what the Cavaliers would have liked since making the deal, it's certainly not because of Hawes.

Grade: B

 

Overall

To sum up the Spencer Hawes-in-Cleveland experiment in one sentence; the big man has played great while the Cavs as a whole continue to struggle.

What's the best grade for Hawes' play with the Cavs?

Submit Vote vote to see results

Between Hawes and Luol Deng, the former has actually been the better acquisition by the Cavaliers. Cleveland should be very interested in re-signing the 25-year-old center this offseason to a multi-year deal.

Hawes may not ever be considered a great defender, but he's not a liability either. Whatever deficiencies he may possess on that end of the floor, Hawes makes up for with his proficient shooting ability on offense.

One can't call the trade worthy of an "A" grade yet simply because of the team's lack of consistent improvement with Hawes, but overall the deal has been a success.

Grade: B+

 

-GS

 

All stats via basketball-reference.com unless otherwise noted.

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