Hawes would be wise to return after testing the waters

As expected, UW star center Spencer Hawes declared himself eligible for the NBA Draft, although he left open the option of returning by not hiring an agent.

While current projections have Hawes being drafted as high as fifth (but probably 10th or lower), he would do well to return to school.

The biggest reason? He's got nowhere to go but up.

If Hawes stays in this draft, he'll be selected on his combination of potential and size -- something that would have been the case had he been allowed to enter the NBA Draft out of high school. It will not be because of anything much he showed on the court this year as an inconsistent freshman for Washington.

For that reason, teams will be necessarily skeptical of Hawes' "upside."

What I saw this year was a player who is extremely skilled on the offensive end, able to play both facing the basket and with his back to it, and able to finish with either hand. That's the part people talk about most often, and rightfully so, since the NBA is obsessed with offense.

But what I also saw was a 7-footer with chicken legs who repeatedly got pushed off the block by smaller defenders. On the defensive end, Hawes was, quite frankly, a liability. He has no clue how to use his size effectively as a shot blocker (or at least shot alterer, if that's a word), and showed slow feet on defensive rotations. That's the difference between a No. 1 pick like Greg Oden and and a mid-first round pick such as Hawes.

What Hawes has an opportunity to do is bulk up and show scouts that he can be an adequate defender against top-level competition. As a Coug fan, I'm the last guy who wants Hawes to come back to school. But Hawes could make himself into a legitimate top five pick in a 2008 draft that doesn't figure to be as loaded as this one.

If I were a betting man, I'd bet that Hawes will get the same advice from NBA scouts, reach the same conclusion, and come back for one more year.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Yeah, and look who Hawes has to return to at Washington... The coach of the year!

Friggin' CBS. I think I just threw up in my mouth a little.