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Lipstick, Pigs & Your Sacramento Kings

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The Spencer Hawes saga has been very interesting to me. On the one hand, we have a 20 year old kid with about 930 minutes to his NBA career (the equivalent of about 26 games if you were using 36 minutes per night).  He is still growing into his body, and he is still learning the NBA game. On the other hand, he is an adult pulling down a wage of $2.2 million this year, he is outspoken in a confident/cocky sort of way, and he did finish last year with some promise.

Let's digest that for a moment. He finished last year in promising fashion, posting April numbers of 11 pts., 7 boards, a block and 2 assists per game. The consensus on Hawes was anywhere from cautious to unbridled optimism, with everyone applauding Geoff Petrie for another fine pick (by everyone, I mean everyone not enamored with Al Thornton - the same Al Thornton that would have been fourth on the depth chart behind Artest/Salmons/Garcia - the same Al Thornton that finished 109th in FG% - but I digress...).

So what has occurred since then? A ho-hum summer league, followed by one-truly-lousy-foul-plagued-game and one-very-promising-game-that-still-drew-concern-from-some-fans.  The pessimists will tell you that Hawes should have dominated in summer league, and as a "veteran" he should have schooled Greg Oden. The optimists will tell you that (a) this is just summer league and preseason and (b) the kid is still learning. The verdict here would be easy - it's early. Ease up on the kid. Except for one thing that turns this conversation, and that is that his own teammates publicly jumped him. Mikki Moore, Beno Udrih and Kevin Martin all weighed in, all saying that Hawes needed to step up his game.

So, where are we with Spencer Hawes? Will he be a player for us, or are we just putting lipstick on a pig? I believe that there are a number of factors here.

First, while it is OK to accept Hawes for what he is, it is too early to determine what he may eventually become. He's 20 and he can still improve his low post game. He may never become Tim Duncan in the low post, but you can't rule out the possibility of him becoming a high/low player like Vlade Divac or Chris Webber (I'm not comparing talent here, just style of play). I still say that Hawes is more like Chris Kaman than Brad Miller, as I see Miller as a true high post only center. Hawes could become more (emphasis on could).

Next, there is nothing wrong with Hawes shooting from the perimeter if (a) he is capable of hitting those shots and (b) opposing teams are leaving him wide open. My initial concern with Hawes on the perimeter is that he does not pass or run the pick and roll. But then it occurred to me that the pick and roll can only be run when the opposing center is actually covering you (duh!), and to this point in Hawes' career that is not really happening. Hawes will need to take (and make) those perimeter shots when they are given to him, which will open up the passing lanes and make pick and rolls an option.

Third, don't punish him for the weakness at the 4. Let me put this way. While everyone has been comparing some of Jason Thompson's talents to Karl Malone, I would liken him to a young Chris Webber (again, in style, not talent). He runs the floor, can handle, and has range. If he were to develop some low post game, the style of Hawes/Thompson would replicate the style of Divac/Webber (albeit with a large disparity in collective passing ability). However, if a player does not develop at the 4, Hawes will be called upon to do more than he can, much in the same way that Brad Miller is called upon now.

The verdict: It's still too early to tell, but never too early to speculate and talk about. This is being a Kings fan in today's world. There will be less talk about playoffs and more talk about player development. There is nothing wrong with that. I still like Spencer Hawes. Of course, I still have money in the stock market (I think), so take that into consideration when reviewing my opinion.

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Peaches Napear’s handling of this story further fortifies my opinion that Napes is not a journalist – he is a cheerleader under the employ of Maloof Sports & Entertainment. This is not entirely a bad thing. I mean, you wouldn’t expect Jerry Reynolds, Big Mike or any of the Royal Court Dancers to pile on Hawes, either. What bothers me (and has me separating Napear from the world of journalism) is that he railed against the media and fans for overreacting in regards to Hawes, but he did not address the comments from Moore, Udrih, Martin or Reggie Theus.  Now, I will give Peaches credit where credit is due.  I think that he is much better than the average play by play man. But as a radio show host he blows, and the fact that he thinks that his ratings prove otherwise in this one horse town is laughable. If it were not for the guests that 1140 manages to secure, there would be no need to tune into his show at all.  It is important to be aware of this dynamic whenever you find yourself disagreeing with the writing’s of Amick/Voison/Cooper/McNeal/Gutierrez. While you may not always agree with them, you should always appreciate that their views are for the most part unbiased (this occasionally does not apply to Marty Mac). And while Peaches may be self centered, self serving, pompous and vapid, he does call a decent game. I guess my point is that as long as you don’t view Grant Napear as a source of news and information, he’s almost palatable.

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I am almost convinced that the Kings should extend Shelden Williams.  This is based on the fact that the Kings have no one else like him on the roster, a banger that will board. Just to have him around to lean on Hawes and Thompson at pracitce is reason enough to keep him. But can we pitch in and send him to Corliss Williamson finishing school? Dude has to become a little more efficient at the basket.