Some Thoughts on Joe Johnson and Spencer Hawes Working Out With the Sixers

Photo Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

The 76ers are all about due diligence in the Elton Brand era.

You may recall they worked out something like half of the dudes who played division one college basketball last season, with a rotating cast of summer sessions that featured six guys at a time for at least two straight weeks. They worked out 50+ players, easily.

So it shouldn’t be surprising when your news feed pops up with reports that Joe Johnson and Spencer Hawes are working out with the club, a couple of veteran guys who are unattached at the moment.

Let’s start with Hawes, since Sixers fans are probably more familiar with… the ex-Sixer.

Spencer was here for three and a half seasons, beginning in 2010 and ending with a trade to Cleveland. He was a steady, if unspectacular contributor on those Doug Collins teams, a guy who could get you 10 points and five rebounds a night while shooting about 47% from the floor. He was not and is not a three-point shooter and he’s not very stretchy, instead doing most of his damage back then via above-league average midrange shooting. His skill set does not interface with modern day NBA trends.

Hawes was in his early twenties during his Sixers run and is now 31 years old, so he’s certainly not a dinosaur. Problem is, he’s been out of the NBA since September of 2017 and played last season for the Lakers’ G-League team. Hawes is Brand’s former Sixers teammate, so this seems like a courtesy type of workout. There’s not much to this unless they wanna use him as a camp body ala Kris Humphries in 2017.

Johnson, however, is interesting.

“Iso Joe” is now 38 years old and was the MVP of the Big 3 league this past season, averaging 21.9 points per game.

Common thought is that the Sixers could use some pure shooting off the bench, because while it looks like a rather deep defensive group, do you see instant offense anywhere on this list? –

  • Matisse Thybulle
  • Mike Scott
  • Shake Milton
  • Zhaire Smith
  • Jonah Bolden
  • Furkan Korkmaz
  • Raul Neto
  • Trey Burke
  • Kyle O’Quinn
  • James Ennis
  • Marial Shayok (two-way)
  • Norvel Pelle (two-way)

At 38 years old, I think getting a bucket from Joe Johnson might be a sure bet more than anybody on that list. You’ve got some catch and shoot guys on there, and Trey Burke is a hot and cold isolation/dribble drive/midrange type of scorer, but there isn’t much in the way of solo shot creation on that list. The Sixers run a motion offense and are not a pick and roll or iso team, but you could certainly use the latter skill in chunks as a change of pace when the offense isn’t clicking.

And listen, if Jamal Crawford can play in the NBA at age 39, I think Joe Johnson has a role at age 38. He’s a career 37% three point shooter and had a nice run with Utah as recently as 2017, putting up double-digit points in seven of his 11 playoff appearances that year. There’s always going to be a role for somebody who can create their own shot, even if Johnson is just showing up for 10-12 minutes a game of bench basketball. I also think you’ve got enough defensive clout at the other four second-unit positions to hide him a bit and mitigate those shortcomings. If JJ Redick and Marco Belinelli were defensive liabilities as plus-scorers, what is Joe Johnson at age 38? Perhaps we’ll see, or perhaps we won’t.

But it’s an intriguing story either way. Having a guy rejoin the NBA from the Big 3 would be a nice feather in Ice Cube’s cap.