|Doug Collins wants Hawes to emulate Gasol. (Getty Images)|
Spencer Hawes had a good year last year. He really did. He passed well, he shot well, he ran the offense well. It wasn't until the playoffs came and Kevin Garnett snuck under his bed then ate him while he was sleeping that he was really shown to not be in the level of a playoff starter. Nevertheless, the Sixers re-signed Hawes to put him next to what was thought to be Kwame Brown, sending waves of panic up the spines of Sixes fans.
Instead, it's Andrew Bynum. But not only is Hawes still going to be paired with the new guy, but Doug Collins says he wants to emulate what the Lakers had with Bynum... using Hawes as All-Star big man Pau Gasol.
“I want (Hawes) to play the Pau Gasol role with Bynum,” Collins said. “Both (Hawes and Gasol) like to play out on the perimeter because they can shoot the ball and are very good passers.”
Woah, ho, hello there, Doug. Did you just say you want the Sacramento Kings lottery washout to play like a guy who was considered the best big man in the league two years ago?
But Collins isn't talking quantitatively, he's talking qualitatively. He wants Hawes to fit a similar role, to focus on the similar plays alongside Bynum, not take on the load or try what Gasol can do offensively.
Yahoo Sports' Ball Don't Lie broke down one area in which Collins isn't nuts:
Straight out of the gate it's worth pointing out that Hawes will never be as effective as Gasol in most offensive metrics, and that comparing a player of Spencer's caliber to the once and potentially future All-Star in Pau is a disservice to all involved. With that in place, there are aspects of Hawes' still improving game that could remind of Gasol in some ways. Namely, his passing from the high and low post as a 7-foot power forward.
Though a good chunk of Hawes' 2011-12 season was lost to injury and then the aftereffects of his Achilles tendon and back woes, he still managed to roar out of the gate with a strong start to the season while showcasing an impressive passing touch. Raw assist totals like Hawes' 2.6 dimes a game won't blow your ears back, but when you factor in the other elements that go into appraising a player's work in dishing the ball — his position, the pace at which his team plays, his minutes, the attention he pays toward setting others up with the assist — Hawes' assist ratio of 17.6 from last season rivals Pau at his finest.
Assist ratio is the percentage of possessions a player uses up that end in an assist, and Hawes' mark from last season is both better than Gasol's percentage from last year (17.3), his career number (16.1), and the number Gasol gave us at Hawes' current age back in 2004 (14.9). In this one area, Hawes might have Pau matched.
The intersting part in my mind comes on the defensive end. Gasol's far from being the defensive bruiser and stalwart ihs brother is, but his insanely gangly arms allow him to contest and defend in the post and in space remarkably well. It's like going up against Mr. Fantastic, the stretchy guy from the Fantastic Four. Hawes doesn't have that kind of length but has a bigger frame.
Surprisingly, however, Gasol is the superior post defender. Synergy Sports shows that Gasol surrendered a .758 points-per-possession mark overall, with Hawes at .787. That's actually really close. But in the post, Gasol allowed just .738 points per possession, while Hawes was all the way at .828. It's a good mark, but it's not as good as Gasol.
Hawes' main problem was floor awareness against the Celtics, getting lost and allowing the mid-range jumper from Kevin Garnett, who lead the league in shots from that area of the floor last year. Another year on him could help with that, especially with Bynum doing the dirty work on the glass.
Can Hawes really emulate Gasol? For the little touch lobs in the paint? Yes. He can help in ball movement to allow the offense to get the rotations they want. But Hawes still has to make a big step up to take the pressure off Bynum if he wants to open the floor for him the way Gasol did.