30Q asks the important questions about the Kings all through September.
Last season, among all NBA centers who played a total of 1,000 minutes or more, 20-year-old Spencer Hawes achieved the following rankings:
- 13th in points per minute
- 23rd in rebounds per minute
- 20th in blocks per minute
- 16th in steals per minute
- 27th in free throw attempts per minute
Those rankings are not particularly mind-blowing, especially considering only 30 official NBA centers played 1,000 minutes or more last season. But here's another:
- 5th in assists per minute
And a few more:
- 3rd in three-point percentage
- 1st in three pointers attempted
- 1st in three pointers made
Spencer Hawes is not like those other dudes.
Basically, Hawes struggles with the traditional center duties (rebounding, drawing fouls, defense -- though the block numbers aren't that bad) but excels in stretch activities -- shooting and passing. Basically -- and I say this without exaggeration or humor -- Hawes is currently a better Andrea Bargnani. Bargs is one of only four 7-footers in the league who shoots a ton of threes (Dirk, Spencer and Yi being the others), but Il Mago is not nearly the passer that Hawes is, nor can Bargnani rebound at the admittedly subpar rate Hawes does. If Bargnani is a shooting guard trapped in a power forward's body, Hawes is an admitted power forward who always like the looks of them shooting guards trapped in a center's body.
The biggest eye-opener in terms of Hawes's transformative ability at the center has been his passing. We documented that Hawes became the youngest center to ever drop nine assists in a game last season. Yes, there are quite a few qualifiers in there. But it's still impressive. Hawes was, again, 5th among centers and third among 7-footers in assists per minute last season ... playing on a truly awful team where the best scorer (Kevin Martin) doesn't need to be set up and the coaches (Reggie Theus and Kenny Natt) had literally no offensive plan, and on which Hawes was 20 years old.
The most jaw-dropping realization I get whenever I look at Hawes's numbers is the similarity to the numbers of Pau Gasol. Gasol, a multiple time All-Star and the second best player on the reigning NBA champions, does exactly two things better than Hawes right now: shoot two-pointers (56% to 49%) and draw fouls (.42 FTA/FGAs to .17 FTA/FGAs). That is basically the entire difference of their production. Now, they are substantial and real differences. On a game-to-game basis, the two-point shooting percentage difference is worth about a point to a point-and-a-half. But Gasol is in the middle of his prime, while Hawes just turned 21. Gasol spent his teenage years playing professional basketball. Hawes arguably has yet to play professional basketball, given the coaching situation in Sacramento. There is hope. Lots of it.
Will it be realized? That's a question only Spencer can answer.