He’s through Year 2, so where can John Henson go from here?

Henson hook
So John, I’ve been meaning to talk to you about something… (Photo by Gary Dineen/NBAE via Getty Images)

Since the Milwaukee Bucks have approximately 4300 forwards on their roster as they begin preparing for the 2014-15 season, we’ll continue Synergy Week (and wrap up North Carolina Days) with a look at Kendall Marshall‘s former-and-again teammate, John Henson. In his second season with the Bucks, Henson (along with most of the team) had an uneven campaign, the majority of which he spent switching between forward spots and operating as a swinging backup to Zaza PachuliaErsan Ilyasova, and Jeff Adrien. He saw his minutes double while maintaining production almost exactly in line with his rookie season:

Henson BR
Via Basketball-reference.com

Several stats improved (most notably his field goal percentage and block rate) while Henson largely held steady or dipped in points, rebounding, assists, steals, and turnovers. However, a look into some more detailed metrics can give us a good idea of where Henson’s at and what he can do to continue to improve his game.

Part of the NBA Stats page’s player tracking is a set of tools designed to measure a player’s defensive impact. While Synergy’s points-per-possession stats can be useful for comparing players on a basic level, they don’t necessarily tell the whole story when it comes to the efficacy of defenders. The recent addition of player tracking technology allows us to shed some more light on the impact that each defender has by isolating the shots that they defended against. The interesting part of that measurement for our purposes is that we have a record of shots defended at the rim (that is, within 5 feet of it).

NBAStats (1)
Click to enlarge for stats-y goodness.

Among players who defended at least 4 opponent field goal attempts at the rim, Henson tied for the 13th-best field goal percentage allowed (46.3%) with his teammate, Ekpe Udoh. For comparison’s sake, they both came in a half of a percentage point under Defensive Player of the Year Joakim Noah (and almost 5 points above Larry Sanders, who limited opponents to an impressive 41.6% at the rim, albeit in a more limited sample size). What makes his stinginess at the rim even more impressive is that Henson spent over 70% of his playing time at center, where he often faced a significant bulk deficit. With the glut of forwards currently occupying the Bucks’ roster, it may be important for him to have the ability to play at (and defend) both the power forward and the center position to see the most minutes.

So the defensive part looks promising. But how about his offense? NBA.com’s shot categorizations aren’t 100% accurate (for example, they say Henson took 113 jump shots, most of which took place in the paint and are jumpers only in the sense that he did, indeed, jump during them), they do indicate that 236 of his 639 shots in 2013-14 were hooks. For comparison, he took only 147 shots that were classified as layups. And after reviewing a significant portion of his shots via Synergy’s useful video tools, I can confirm that they were almost unanimously left-handed. While I joked about it in my post-season awards, it’s almost painfully obvious that Henson currently has exactly one post move.

While the hook has been reasonably effective – he converted nearly 50% of those shots last season – it just doesn’t seem like a feasible strategy going forward. Opposing forwards played him surprisingly straight up on defense last year, but it’s nearly inevitable that teams start working to take away that left side and force Henson to use other moves to beat them. It’s imperative that he develop some additional moves – or at least a reliable counter to the hook that he can use when they key in on it.

Henson’s offensive efficiency, via Synergy.

Digging into Synergy’s offensive play numbers (which I’ve found more useful than the defensive ones) shows that Henson has been most successful on quicker plays – cuts to the basket, offensive rebounds, and in transition. When he gets the ball in a post-up situation, his tendency to default to his favorite shot often means that Henson puts in more work for a less favorable look than if he had any kind of move to the right or toward the basket. Of course, being a young player still works in his favor, as there is still plenty of opportunity to develop a more varied offensive strategy. As his tendencies become more well-known around the league and teams begin to key in on that hook, it will be important that Henson be able to keep opponents guessing with his post game in order to continue his effective play.

One area that he performed surprisingly poorly in? As the roll man in the pick-and-roll. Now, granted, he wasn’t exactly working with any pick-and-roll masters on the other end of that transaction. But 134th in the league and .83 PPP is… pretty bad. In particular, he struggled mightily receiving a pass and quickly transitioning into a shot, even if he had a decent look at close range. Watching a number of those plays also shows that he hasn’t been particularly effective as a screener – sometimes missing entirely with his picks and rarely impeding the target of the screen to any meaningful degree. With the emphasis on the pick-and-roll in the modern NBA, improving his performance out of that particular set would be a boon for Henson and his value as an offensive player.

The third year will likely be a crucial one for Henson. He’ll be facing even more competition in the lineup with the addition of Jabari Parker and Johnny O’Bryant as well as the healthy returns of Ersan Ilyasova and Sanders. While he has shown that he can be a contributor in the NBA, the question remains as to how he can continue to fill out his game. He’s already started filling out his frame, according to the Journal Sentinel’s Charles F. Gardner:

Henson has gained 16 pounds since early May, hitting the weight room to increase his weight to 233 pounds.

The 6-foot-11 Henson often struggled to battle more physical power forwards in his first two seasons.

“I think that was a big thing for me going into the summer, putting on weight,” Henson said. “That’s just one step. Now it’s time to get better skill-wise on the court and try to improve myself on a daily basis.”

It’s encouraging to see him taking those steps, and it appears that Henson understands what he has to do to improve himself. The next step will be for him to take that improvement and show it on the basketball court. A newly crowded Bucks frontcourt means that the competition for playing time will only increase – but that competition will hopefully push Henson to improve on his early success and develop into a key contributor for a young and growing Bucks team.

Categories: Bucks Player Features,Stats and Stuff

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  1. Expecting a big leap for Henson this year. He played great the first couple months of last season but then tailed off. I think the months of intentional losing got to him.

  2. It’s called a rope-a-dope. Use your left hand 6000 times so everyone expects it. And then, when it counts the most, right hand! Bam!

    • Funny, I was hoping that the Bucks recognized that last year was a tank year and they specifically set J.Henson out to work on and develop his left handed moves in the post while really knowing that he had an amazing set of right handed moves that he could go to whenever he wanted too and that we’d see his ability to mix them up in coming years. I think that’s too much wishful thinking though.

  3. I’m looking forward to seeing J.Henson capable and durable enough to play a lot more center this year! Between L.Sanders and him we should need much time out of anyone else at the center position unless injuries occur or they get matched up against the truly bigger and stronger centers that requires them to get additional rest during the game.

    • That was a very good read.

      Given that the Bucks weren’t able to obtain S.Hawes (who I thought the Bucks should have shown serious interest in going after in the off-season) the Bucks now need J.Henson to continue developing his rim protection and defense at the center position because it seems highly unlikely that he’ll add stretch shooting to his resume anytime soon — most likely never. If he can continue his development as an athletic big man with some solid post moves and an ability to protect the rim defensively then he’ll maintain solid value to the Bucks; especially, as a back-up and possibly eventual replacement to L.Sanders. If he is able to improve his court vision and passing to levels of high usefulness then his value should increase even more. Maybe even to a point where offensive sets could be run to get him the ball in the post and he could hit cutters or find the open man if the defense is forced to collapse down on him. This seems like wishful thinking but it honestly could be possible if he has the work ethic to develop his game accordingly and the vision plus willingness of the coaching staff to try implementing it. L.Sanders should also be trying to develop and raise his game in the same manner.

      If S.Hawes could have been persuaded to join the Bucks he could have been their starting center who also serves as a stretch big man while L.Sanders and J.Henson could have been their main rim protector while serving as athletic power-forwards who primarily stay within the paint and focus their game on preventing other athletic bigs from roaming around. Defensively this should have worked much better for the Bucks than the team relying on L.Sanders and J.Henson to protect the rim while playing at the center position and relying on someone like say E.Ilyasova or maybe even J.Parker to be their stretch “big”.

      Also, just to note I was not a fan of the size and length of the contract the Bucks offered to Z.Pachulia. They should have been able to sign him for less money per year and for only a one or two year deal though that’s just more wishful think at this point in time… oh well.

      The way I see the team in regards to core players:

      G B.Knight (core player; needs to continue developing his game offensively and specifically as a facilitator while getting back to playing better on-ball defense. Has the capability to be a serious factor in the overall team improvement, but IMO it begins with bringing his on-ball defense back up to being above average where he’s capable of having it at.)

      G K.Marshall (potential core player; needs to seriously work on his defense and more specifically his overall physicality while continuing to work on his shooting)

      G N.Wolters (possible core player; will likely get buried deeper on the roster this year but demonstrated some capability during his rookie year so with further overall development he could maybe stick as a future core back-up player)

      G J.Bayless (fairly expendable; unlikely to be considered a core player and his expend-ability will probably depends greatly on OJ.Mayo and maybe N.Wolters. He still fits the younger player theme the Bucks are going with but his game isn’t likely to develop much more than it has. He’s probably destined to be a journeyman NBA player for several more years as a scorer off the bench)

      SG OJ.Mayo (completely expendable if not in playing shape; if he demonstrates that he’s turned a corner physically and mentally perhaps he can change the perspective and he can become a core player going forward thanks to his age and scoring talents)

      G/F G.Antetokounmpo (core player/future super star player; he needs to continue working on all aspects of his game but probably most importantly for this year is his willingness to be a playmaker with the ball in his hand — he needs to be aggressive in attacking the defense so that he builds confidence)

      SG/F K.Middleton (potential core player; he should start trying to shape his game to best fit those of the known core future players. To me this means he needs to look to move without the ball in his hands more often — constantly moving and trying to screen off his defender so that he can receive the ball in ideal catch and shoot opportunities or in easy cuts to the basket. In other words, he should try modeling his offensive game off of former player Rip Hamilton. He’s got the capability to do that plus the physicality and athleticism to be a solid on ball defender at the shooting guard position too.)

      SG/F D.Inglis (possible core player; don’t really know much about him or his game other than he’s supposedly got the physical tools to become a dominate player. I hope he realizes his full potential and can grow into being another star player for the Bucks.)

      F J.Parker (core player/likely star player; already has a polished offensive game that’s ready for the NBA, but really needs to develop and grow his defensive game. I hope he’s able to do just that despite some concerns I have with his lateral movement at the small forward position and his strength at the power forward position. If he’s going to be getting time at the small forward position he needs to be able to stay in front of and keep up with players who are likely going to be quicker than him and if he’s going to get time at the power forward position he needs to be able to hold his ground against players who are probably going to be stronger than him.)

      PF J.O’Bryant (possible core player; he’s got nice touch around the basket and appears to have pretty good strength but it doesn’t appear as if he’s a very good rim protector. Given his height he’ll probably see most, if not all, of his time at power forward which means if he’s going to grow into a being a core player going forward he’ll have to expand his entire offensive game to include decent range. Outside of those few known things not much else is really known about the rookie at this point so fingers crossed that he proves to be a good addition to the team.)

      PF/C L.Sanders (core player for the time being; has the capability to be a true star defensive player with room to grow offensively though that offensive growth is somewhat limited. Nevertheless, is he disciplined enough internally to see his full potential become a reality while at the same time avoiding or preventing the distractions? These types of questions will dictate whether he’s a true core player or someone the Bucks look to move in hopes of attaining another asset or assets.)

      PF/C J.Henson (potential core player; discussed above)

      **C/PF S.Hawes** (a would-be core player if we’re able to obtain him; his game should fit very well with what the Bucks could be doing offensively and defensively. An extremely underrated player in that he’s a “big” who can not only play inside but can also effectively stretch the floor as a center. He should match-up well defensively against most of the NBA’s centers — unless he’s facing an extremely athletic and quick center he shouldn’t get exposed. He’s got the height and pretty good strength to bang around inside plus he’s a capable rim protector too.)

      C M.Raduljica (fairly expendable; would be nice to see if he develops into anything worth while. Certainly has size which can be used to his advantage, but appears to lack the foot speed to stay in front of the more athletic centers and most seem to be more athletic than him.)

      PF E.Ilaysova (expend-ability depends on if he can find his range again; however, IMO he would be 100% expendable if S.Hawes were to be obtained. His game revolves completely around what he can do for the Bucks offensively as a stretch power forward and as an aggressive rebounder. At this point in time his game isn’t going to change or improve much so if he’s not capable of sustaining his previously outstanding outside shooting and isn’t as aggressive going after boards then there’s really not much use for him on the team as his limited athletic ability really restricts him defensively to the point where he could be considered a serious liability.)

      C Z.Pachulia (pretty much expendable; should be considered one of the top candidates to be moved if possible. Despite being a surprisingly good facilitator as a center he doesn’t have any other offensive game. He has strength defensively, but can’t stay in front of anyone and pretty much lacks any ability to protect the rim. At his cost he’s not a very good fit for this team going forward.)

      SG/F C.Delfino (pretty much expendable; should be considered another one of the top candidates to be moved if possible. Despite being someone who fills a need as a 3 point shooter and someone who’ll probably try his damnedest to be a defensive thorn to his opponent he doesn’t really fit this team going forward given his age and likelihood to show any improvement in his game. Again, while he does serve one need offensively (3pt shooting) he doesn’t really do much else beyond that. At this point in his career he’s probably a liability defensively given that he probably can’t stay in front of the much more athletic shooting guards and small forwards though his veteran savviness may allow him to remain somewhat respectable in winning some match-ups or battles here and there.)

      F C.Wright (fairly expendable; will get cut from team due primarily to a non-guaranteed contract and a overcrowded team roster. Freakish athletic ability but needed to develop his offensive game a lot – especially shooting – and I’m not sure he’s been able to do that.)

      • You lost me when you praised Spencer Hawes defensively and said that Hawes/Henson or Sanders is better that Sanders or Henson/Parker

        • This is because I think Parker still projects better at Small Forward at least initially. I think it might take a few years before he’s able to build enough strength to battle with the more physical Power Forwards in the league. On the flip side, offensively speaking, having Parker playing at Power Forward with L.Sanders and J.Henson splitting time at Center should be better than the lineup I mentioned with S.Hawes getting his time at Center and L.Sanders and J.Henson seeing more time at Power Forward.

      • If Spencer Hawes is a core player for your team, you probably have a bad team. He’s only a starter on a bad team, probably tops out as a third big on a contender. Defensively, on that chart I used above, he gave up the 7th-highest FG% at the rim (56%). Not great.

        On a team that’s overloaded with forwards as it is – and most of those have the potential to be much better than Hawes – I don’t see much of a point.

        • You’re nuts for trying to undervalue Spencer Hawes! Dudes a baller and a solid starting caliber player on most NBA teams.

          Just because he’s been regulated to playing on some horrifically bad Sixer teams doesn’t mean he’s “only” a starting caliber player if he’s on a “bad” team. He’s developed his overall game; granted, more so on offense but of the games I’ve seen of him he’s not been a major liability defensively speaking. Again, Spencer Hawes obviously has some great tools to use offensively; especially, given his ability to stretch the floor as a true “big” man but for the most part defensively speaking he’s still able to maintain himself as a solid starting caliber center for most NBA teams.

          Also, I think you need to check your chart again because defensively speaking per that chart you mentioned above his protection percentage at the rim was 52.3% while with the Sixers last season (the majority of his games – 55) and his overall rim protection for the full year finished out at 53.3%; not to mention he averaged a swat rate of 1.2 blocks per game for the full year too. Comparatively speaking Andre Drummond, who I think most anyone would agree is considered an ascending dominate “big” man, had a rim protection percentage of 52.3% (same as S.Hawes w/ the Sixers) but with 1.6 blocks per game. Does this mean I think S.Hawes is comparative to A.Drummond defensively? No, of course not but I think it does go to show that these metrics don’t always tell the full story about a player and their abilities; especially, given that teams run different types of defensive concepts and schemes which might ask players to do things somewhat differently on the defensive side. Plus in S.Hawes case with being traded he probably had to make some adjustments on the fly with getting to know how his teammates will assist within the defensive system.

          BTW, here are some other noteable players with rim protections within what I’m considering the vicinity of S.Hawes during the 2013-14 season and most importantly it includes Ersan Ilaysova which was who I was mainly trying to make a point of comparing Spencer Hawes to in a different aka “better” Bucks roster lineup…

          Marcin Gortat 50.1% w/ 1.5 BLKs per game – considered a solid starting “big”

          Derrick Favors 50.7% w/ 1.5 BLKs per game – an ascending athletic power forward who can fill-in at center

          Marc Gasol 50.8% w/ 1.3 BLKs per game – probably the most well rounded “big” in the game.

          DeMarcus Cousins 51.1% w/ 1.3 BLKs per game – another ascending “big” who had a bit of a breakout year.

          Jonas Valanciunas 51.1% w/ 0.9 BLKs per game – yet another ascending “big” who should be poised to have a real breakout year this coming year if the offense can pass the ball to him a little more.

          Greg Monroe 51.2% w/ 0.6 BLKs per game – here’s someone who’s defense is often mocked and isn’t considered to have the ability to protect the rim who supposedly has a rim protection rate lower than his much better teammate A.Drummond — I think that’s a bit strange.

          Terrence Jones 51.3% w/ 1.3 BLKs per game – here’s an ascending player who fits the rare mold of being capable of stretching the floor at the power forward position while also being considered a decent rim protector given his ability to swat shots.

          Tyson Chandler 51.5% w/ 1.1 BLKs per game – a descending “big” player given his age but still one who’s considered a solid inside defender. Hell the Mavericks believed in him so much that they traded several of their young player, an efficient pass first point guard, and 2nd round draft pick assets to get him.

          Lebron James 51.9% w/ 0.6 BLKs per game – not necessarily a “big” but because he’s the most dominate player in the league and has the body to allow him to play and match-up in many different positions he found himself playing at PF quite often.

          Samuel Dalembert 52.0% w/ 1.2 BLKs per game – not someone I’d consider a solid starting “big” but he is considered within the NBA to be a serviceable “big” due to his ability to protect the rim.

          Channing Frye 52.2% w/ 0.8 BLKs per game – an obviously descending player who doesn’t really possess the strength necessary to battle defensively inside, but has been considered in his younger days a decent rim protector given his height and ability to swat shots. He’s also one of those rarer stretch “bigs” who can block shots.

          Enes Kanter 52.7% w/ 0.5 BLKs per game – was expected to have a breakout year and be a solid defensive presence inside, but that didn’t really materialize. Doesn’t appear to posses the athleticism to alter opponent shots and reject them though he does possess the strength to battle defensively down low.

          Al Jefferson 52.7% w/ 1.1 BLKs per game – considered one of the better “bigs” in the game thanks in large part to his vast repertoire of inside moves while banging around down low. He only getting older and slower and never really was considered a great defender because he doesn’t didn’t have the athleticism or quickness needed to stay in front of many quicker post players but his strength allows him to battle.

          Blake Griffin 53.5% w/ 0.6 BLKs per game – certainly viewed as one the most dominate power forwards in the league. With his athleticism and strength I’m not quite sure why he hasn’t been able to develop a more respectable defensive game around the basket.

          Zach Randolph 53.9% w/ 0.3 BLKs per game – another pretty dominate power forward but sort of in the mold of a lesser Al Jefferson.

          Jared Sullinger 53.9% w/ 0.7 BLKs per game – an ascending power forward.

          Anderson Varejao 54.2% w/ 0.6 BLKs per game – one of the better rebounders in the league.

          Paul Gasol 54.6% w/ 1.5 BLKs per game – considered one of the better “bigs” in the game despite possibly nearing the last handful or so of years in his career.

          Ersan Ilyasova 55.1% w/ 0.1 BLKs per game – the Bucks only real stretch front court player, but he’s defensive ability and rim protection is extremely lacking in comparison to a Spencer Hawes.

          • My bad on the stat – I missed the part where that was only his percentage from Cleveland. But if you look at any defensive metric, really (FG% allowed at the rim, blocks, DRtg) he’s been an average at best rim protector and a below average defender throughout his career.

            But I still don’t see the point in adding him to a roster that’s already packed with frontcourt players – to the point where they’ll likely need to take players out of it just to have enough minutes for everyone. He might be a baller, but he’s not a difference maker – definitely not to the degree that the Bucks would need him to be for that kind of signing to pay off at any level – and I don’t think his peak or potential is higher than any of the young bigs currently on the Bucks’ roster.

            It would also have taken at least 4/$23M (and probably considerably more, considering that he supposedly took a discount to sign with a contender) to land him this year, which would end up eating into the team’s cap flexibility when they need to start extending players like Henson, Giannis, and Parker. Adding Hawes would be a win-now move that they didn’t need and the new owners have shown that they’re not not inclined to do that kind of thing any more. If he was the piece that pushed the team over the edge, then sure. Even then, as we saw for Cleveland last year, it might not be THAT beneficial. For a team that should probably focus more on internal development than bringing in more limited-upside vets, he really just doesn’t make sense.

          • @Mitch

            Granted, the addition of a Spencer Hawes to the team would have had to of come with the moving of other players.

            The size and length of Z.Pachulia’s contract was an obvious mistake. Maybe my opinion is farfetched, but I think L.Drew convinced H.Kohl that they had to sign him so they did; now trying to find a way to jettison him isn’t going to be easy. They’ll probably have to try packaging him with a real asset which seems like something they’d be unwilling to do.

            While E.Ilyasova could serve a legitimate role with the Bucks as a stretch 4 role player who comes off the bench to get his limited minutes, but he’s being over paid for that role so he’s another guys who’s quite expendable. The problem for the Bucks is that his value across the league is too low right now and the Bucks would be hard pressed to find any suitors who’d be willing to give up anything fair enough in return. Also, he’s still the only stretch so-called “big” (because he plays nearly all of his minutes at a frontcourt position) so if they ship him off they’ll have all kinds of spacing issues unless they play rookie J.Parker solely at the 4-spot where he’ll probably encounter his own share of defensive issues.

            You move those two players off of the team and acquire S.Hawes you’re looking at a frontcourt rotation of primarily 4 players (L.Sanders, J.Henson, S.Hawes, J.Parker) and you can play them more or less at their respective spots more so according to ideal match-ups. Also, moving E.Ilaysova and Z.Pachulia would have certainly of freed up the money necessary to sign S.Hawes. It’s not as if S.Hawes contract would have prevented the team from being capable of resigning J.Henson, G.Antetokounmpo, and J.Packer down the road; especially, if they were able to get those other negative contracts off of the books. However, I’m not ignorant of the fact that they would have probably had to of taken on some bloated expiring contracts in return for moving them so… yeah it’s all wishful thinking anyways.

            S.Hawes would be the stretch big man on the offensive side or depending on who he’s facing in a particular match-up he could even be given the ball in at either the post or at the top of the key where his ability to back a player down to the bucket or his excellent vision and passing ability could also be utilized. On defense he has the flexibility to match-up against certain power forwards but he’d primarily be match-up against most centers. S.Hawes is only 26 years old so he still fits the young theme of the team and there’s a good chance he could take his game to yet another level offensively and defensively while growing with the rest of the team. He also doesn’t appear to be a diva-type player who would have difficulty putting the team first.

            L.Sanders can play both power forward and center. Where he should play would depend more so on who he’s being paired with in the frontcourt and match-ups. L.Sanders is primarily a defensive anchor type player with out much of an offensive game.

            J.Henson is a lot like L.Sanders except with a much better attitude, less game experience, and probably lacks a bit of strength in comparison.

            J.Parker is going to be an All-Star forward, but before he can become an all-around dominate player he’ll need to work on his defense which will probably cause problems for the Bucks in his first few years.

          • Players develop, evolve, and improve. I don’t think it’s quite fair to summarize a player’s potential to be useful for a club by looking exclusively at their career numbers as a whole. I think it’s prudent to observe if they’ve shown steady improvement and to actually watch some game film or a recent scouting report on them.

            For example is it fair to say that the player Kawhi Leonard was coming out of college was the kind of player he was destined to be in the NBA? A high motor and energy guy who brought it physically on defense and in his aggressiveness to go after boards despite lacking NBA strength. He also had a unimpressive offensive game given his poor handle, a broken shooting stroke, little feel for the game, and questionable range. Dude only improved in pretty much every way possible to become the Finals MVP on the Spurs Championship team and a large part of that is because he was on a team that believed in him and showed patience in giving him the assistance and time to grow his game into what it is now.

          • Kawhi Leonard steadily growing in his first three seasons and Spencer Hawes having one good year in his seventh are vastly different things.

            7 seasons seems like a more than appropriate sample size by which to judge a player too.

          • I’ve been watching S.Hawes’ game develop and improve, for the most part, every year he’s been in the league. He’s had some obvious set-backs due to the teams he’s been on, injuries, and trades; but, he has managed to continue growing his overall game nevertheless. The growth has been especially apparent when he’s received opportunities that have provided him with sufficient “starter” time on the court.

            To note: S.Hawes’ last three years have been the only time he’s been able to get significant “starter” type of minutes on a more consistent basis. Unfortunately, a serious early season ending injury derailed things for him during the 2011-12 season, but up until then he was demonstrating that he could be a real factor on the floor. Anyways, that was an obvious major set-back and with the acquisition of Andrew Bynum for the 2012-13 season S.Hawes was suppose to be eased back throughout the season and to serve simply as depth in the frontcourt. Thanks to A.Bynum’s continuous knee related set-backs that began prior to the season’s start and eventually led to him being shutdown for the season the Sixers were forced to count more on S.Hawes than his 1st season back from serious injury probably should have had him playing, but his strong play on the court also assisted with him receiving that increased court time. Another season removed from his nasty injury and since he didn’t suffer any noteworthy injuries during the 2013-14 season and was pretty much the Sixers only option at center he finally got to showcase his true abilities and game by putting up his best statistical season.

            BTW, in my previous comment I wasn’t trying to make a direct comparison between Kawhi Leonard and Spencer Hawes in saying that they’re somehow equal players; no, Kawhi Leonard is a special player. I was simply trying to say that most players have to be believed in by a team/coach so that with the appropriate amount of time (some take a bit longer than others) they can develop, grow, and improve their game in taking it to the next level; though, some won’t ever get there. Nevertheless, if they’re not even afforded the opportunities to grow their game they’ll never take that next step forward. IMO, I think it’s fair to say that S.Hawes’ path to proving himself as a quality “big” in the NBA has been a bit more difficult than K.Leonard’s path to Final MVP.

        • Kawhi Leonard has improved basically every year and people knew that he had talent coming out of College, lack of shooting ability really knocked him down though. There was some talk of him being picked 7th by Sacramento at oine point. As for Spencer Hawes he had 6 mediocre seasons and finally had a year that was better than average in scoring last season. Most of that is based on increased 3pt shooting and none of his other numbers are really impressive. I imagine he’ll have a decent season with LAC but I don’t see the point of having him on the Bucks, we already have Ersan who I’d love to get rid of.

          • See my response to Mitch above to better understand my reason for comparing K.Leonard to S.Hawes.

            Also, I would like to point out that when S.Hawes was drafted in 2007 he was projected to go as high as 5th overall and as low as 12th, so it’s not as if he was some major surprise player who was originally thought to be fairly talent-less outside of a specialty role and his size which got him into the NBA. Like I said earlier — dude’s a baller!

            Lastly, my whole reason for stating anything about S.Hawes originally was 100% in relation to desiring him on the Bucks as a core player in replacement of non-core players E.Ilaysova and Z.Pachulia.