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“Jaws Of Doom”: All-In On Spencer Hawes, the NBA’s Most Complete Center

Yesterday I stumbled across a trade proposal involving Spencer ‘Hoss’ Hawes for LaMarcus Aldridge.  The move was met with nearly universal approval from the peanut gallery, who viewed it as a classic case of ‘selling high’.  Selling Hawes, however, is a not a good move, for he’s the most complete fantasy center in the NBA. If anything you should be buying in while people still see him as a ‘sell high’ candidate; instead of the elite, uniquely skilled, big man he is.

Ride your Hoss

Ride your Hoss

Spencer Hawes:  53%fg, 74%ft, 1.9 3ptm, 16.8pts, 10.3rbds, 3.1asts, 0.5stls, 1.6blks, 2.4 to

LaMarcus Aldridge: 45%fg, 76%ft, 0 3ptm, 22.3 pts, 9.6 rbds, 2.5asts, 1.4stls, 1.0blks, 2.4 to

  • Categorical marginal analysis favors Spencer Hawes 5-3-1; +2 on the margin.  
  • If you’re smart and automatically punt turnovers, ignore the push
  • Aldridge’s biggest advantage is in scoring and steals, he holds a significant lead in both.  Scoring, however, can be found relatively cheap on waivers all year; lessening his appeal. His stealing ability is very valuable, however.
  • Hoss blocks more shots and knocks down three. Since blocked shots are arguably the most valuable category, obviously this is an asset. Furthermore, Hoss’s ability to sink the deep ball separates him from other NBA centers, he produces in ways few can.

Hoss has been on fire lately, giving owners top 15 overall production from a guy who was likely acquired late in the draft (10th rounder in my league).  That’s some serious ROI.  Aldridge, on the other hand, is giving owners exactly what they paid for: all-star production.  LaMarcus is a monster with a damn impressive offensive repertoire, but given their histories you’ve got to believe that Aldridge will eventually start out-producing Hawes, right?

Maybe not, actually.

  1. Hawes presently accounts for 22% of the 76er’s nightly rebounds, 27% of their 3’s, and a smooth 34% of their blocked shots. Whenever Hoss sits, the Sixers lose a ton of production.  For his numbers to regress back towards the mean, the rest of Philly’s front court would really need to step it up.
  2. To put this in perspective, Aldridge is responsible for 21% of Portland’s rebounds, 22% of their steals, and 21% of their blocks. Hawes’s role is at least as prominent as Aldridge’s, if not more so. The Sixers rely on Hoss more than the Blazers rely on LeMarcus, this speaks volumes.
  3. Hawes is second among all NBA centers with 3.1 assist per game. Martin Gortat is 10th on this list at 1.4 per game.  Assuming a 3 game week this will extrapolate out to 9.6 against 3.9, a small but meaningful gap.  Hoss is one of the best passing big men in the NBA, this opens up the floor for the rest of Philly who can run their offense through Hawes.
  4. Hoss is shooting 49% from deep, draining almost 2 threes per game, production on par with KD (1.8 @ 37%) and Iggy (1.9 3ptm @ 47%).
  5. In fact, Kevin Love is the only more productive C from outside (2.1 3ptm @ 36%). Hawes provides a comparative advantage here, he’s the most efficient deep threat among NBA centers.  Ryan Anderson is probably more efficient but he’s a PF.
  6. Hawes’s free throw percentage has increased every season (up from 65% in ’07), except for 2010 when he moved from Sacramento to Philly.  He shot 78% from the line last year and could realistically approach 80% this season.
  7. Hawes is playing 33 mpg this season; his minutes have steadily increased since 2010 when he played 21mpg.
  8. If you really think the Sixers are about to cut into any of his minutes for the likes of alleged back up center ‘Daniel Orton’ or asterisk Kwame Brown, its time for a tolerance break from PCP.
Kwame Brown gets paid $3 million, 10000% more than the average American.  His job is to look tall.

Kwame Brown gets paid $3 million, 10000% more than the average American. His job is to look tall.

In fantasy football circles ‘start your studs’ is commonly heard advice; my advice today — ride your Hoss.  There simply aren’t many other 7 foot tall Homo sapiens who can fill up a stat sheet like Hawes; and they’re basically all off the draft board midway through the second round.  Now, I’m not trying to knock Aldridge; in fact, LaMarcus is one of my favorite players to watch.  All I’m saying is that marginal gains of +2, and unique comparative advantages, should almost always be exploited.  Hoss is potentially the most complete fantasy center in the NBA, and nobody can afford to surrender such an asset, not even for LaMarcus Aldridge.

(ps: Kevin Love is probably the most complete big man in the league, but he’s really a PF.)

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