One of the unique qualities of an individual NBA game is its ability to function as a finger nail universe. When a team plays 80 some odd times over the course of the season there tend to be two trains of analysis when breaking said season down, either you look at accomplishments in their entirety (record overall, record against above .500 teams, record against sub .500 teams, record on the road) or, inversely, you break individual, situational statistics into sub-atomic particles and reconstruct those in the hopes of creating some more intimate, informative picture of the whole. Very rarely, in either of those forms of criticism, does a Tuesday night game in December strongly factor in. This is only logical for a season that stretches into the summer. But to due so may ignore the galaxy flourishing, or floundering, in our keratin. In May when asked, no matter how the season shakes out, who Sacramento’s best player is, my answer, the logical answer, will be Kevin Martin. But the honest answer, the one from that December Tuesday, will be Spencer Hawes.
At some point in his career Spencer Hawes will be the sort of statistical anomaly that garners you first or second pick fantasy draft status and Team USA first or second team invitations. Realistically this could be said for any 7 footer capable of delivering more than 5 assists intentionally. But with Hawes what’s revelatory isn’t the content of his eclectic statistics but the context with which those statistics are attained. Tonight Hawes was a funnel for this team, the game ran through him - when it ran through him - fluidly and fluently. The no look passes, the defensive rebounding, the 3 point shooting (which was not in action tonight) are all intriguing parts but the Hawes whole seems to be greater than those parts’ sum. This can’t be said for any other player on the current Kings roster. Martin is a great player, Sacramento’s best player. But he’s still a better player objectively than he is subjectively. Hawes is the inverse. And it is on those players that Petrie built his previous foundation.
Is this overstatement and overconfidence? Perhaps. But remember where we were with Hawes a little over a year ago. The 10th pick in a draft considered 9 All Stars deep. The alka seltzer to our Joakim Noah hang-over. 18 months later he defies any accurate analogy. He’s Brad Miller, sure, but Brad Miller was never able to find a synergy between his rough and tumble Pacer days and the high post Princeton Kings. Hawes has. He’s LaMarcus Aldridge if Aldridge could pass like Divac. He’s Christian Laettner if Laettner had slept with Tim Duncan. He’s Andrew Bogut without having to use your first over all pick. Is some of the above tongue in cheek? Clearly. But what’s wrong with inspiring hyperbole in the early goings of a make or break Sophomore season?
Tonight was not pleasant, and the good thing about the NBA is that a loss on a Tuesday in December does not a season make or break, and consequently it is quickly forgettable. But occasionally actions of the seemingly slightest significance mean much more than we realize. And for those actions it is the reaction that reverberates.
So we wait.