Spencer Hawes excited about new role with Sixers

Posted: October 05, 2012

Of all the working parts that must come together if the 76ers are going to realize their potential, transitioning Spencer Hawes from center to power forward - a position he's never played - is pretty low on the list.

One week after the Sixers re-signed Hawes to a two-year, $13 million deal, they then signed 6-foot-11, 270-pound Kwame Brown. Sixers coach Doug Collins anointed Brown the starter and immediately said Hawes would start at power forward.

The blockbuster trade for center Andrew Bynum partially scuttled those plans, relegating Brown to the bench but not altering the plans for Hawes, who welcomes the opportunity to play power forward alongside the massive, 285-pound Bynum

"The way I play, alongside a bigger body guy it could be that I'm better suited there," Hawes said. "If you watch any of the stuff the Lakers have done a lot of the guys benefit from having him out there, whether it's the guards or the big buys."

Bynum is resting his knees following a noninvasive procedure to relieve pain and is expected to finally join his new teammates in the days after the final preseason game against the New York Knicks on Oct. 22 in Syracuse.

That leaves Hawes and the Sixers eight days to get comfortable alongside Bynum before the Sixers open the regular season at home against Denver on Oct. 31.

"Big guys have to have that special camaraderie to play off of each other, that's just the way the game goes," Hawes said. "I'm looking forward to figuring out the spots where he likes to operate from and then just going from there."

Collins believes the adjustment for Hawes, who last season averaged 9.6 points and career highs in rebounds (7.3) and blocks (1.3), won't be difficult. He has repeatedly said that Hawes was better on the floor last season when paired with a bigger guy like Lavoy Allen as opposed to when he played center opposite a more svelte power forward such as Thaddeus Young.

"He can shoot the ball; I'm OK with him stepping out and shooting the three," Collins said. "He's such a facilitator who can pass the ball and find cutters on the floor. And he plays so much better playing alongside a physical, strong guy."

As the Sixers got off to a 10-2 start to begin the 2011-12 season, Hawes, the 10th overall pick by Sacramento in the 2007 draft, got off to the best start of his career. In the best shape of his life, Hawes opened the season with four double-doubles in the first five games. But he missed 27 of the team's next 29 games with a back injury and, most notably, a sore left Achilles tendon.

"He was having a tremendous year and was arguably the best player on our team for the first part of the season," Collins said. "But you don't rush guys back. He's 24. He stands to earn $65-85 million over the next 10 years of his career. We wanted him to return but we wanted to make sure he was going to come back and be fine."

Hawes said that watching the Sixers, who struggled with him out of the lineup, was difficult.

"It's frustrating, but you have to remind yourself that there is no point beating yourself up because that is not going to make your Achilles heal up," Hawes said.

While he feels that he was headed toward his best statistical season - and perhaps a much more lucrative contract than the one he received - Hawes is just looking forward to playing his new role and helping the Sixers become a force.

"We have a good group of guys here that want to win," Hawes said. "That's what everybody is about."

Notable. Collins said that no one is hurting more than Bynum over him not being out on the floor with his teammates. "He's smart and he gets it," Collins said. "He's asking question. You can tell how much it hurts him not being out there. . . . Allen was excused from practice in the morning in anticipation of his girlfriend giving birth to their child. . . . Scheduled to practice for three hours in the morning session, the first of two, Collins cut the practice shots.

Contact John N. Mitchell at jmitchell@philly.com, or follow on Twitter @JmitchInquirer. Read his blog, "Deep Sixer," at www.philly.com/deepsixer

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