As Russell Varner already wrote in his season review of Spencer Hawes's 2015-16 campaign, the Seattle native had an average year overall. Hawes proved to be a serviceable back-up big man for the Hornets, yet didn't blow anyone's expectations away either.
One of the aspects of the game where the 7-1 center did excel, however, was keeping the ball moving on Charlotte's second units. His ball-handling and passing skills allowed coach Steve Clifford to often put the ball in Hawes's hands on the perimeter. The 28-year-old repeated his career-high of 3.8 assists per 36 minutes (good for the 7th place in the league among forward-centers) by dishing out passes or doing dribble hand-offs in set plays like this Floppy for Jeremy Lamb:
Lamb might have been the main benefactor of Hawes's touch as the UConn Huskie was assisted on 28 of his field goal makes by the center. Only Jeremy Lin had more assists to Lamb as he accumulated 32 for the season.
Yet the real magic of Hawes comes on his passes from the elbow and the post to cutting Hornets guards. That's where the big man can display his slickness with beautiful bounce passes past unsuspecting defenders.
These connections, mostly between Hawes and Jeremy Lamb or Jeremy Lin, gained traction towards the second part of the season as the players developed a chemistry which allowed to occasionally burn defenses with backdoor cuts. It can be something as simple as Jeremy Lin seeming to start movement for a dribble hand-off with Hawes on the elbow before putting the breaks on and catching Austin Rivers by surprise with a backdoor cut:
Whether from the aforementioned elbow and the post or just freewheeling with Hawes behind the 3-point line, sequences like this created enough material for a season highlight reel of the Seattleite's bounce passes:
As of result, Spencer Hawes is 22nd in the league for the 2015-16 regular season in elbow PASS% (the percentage of times a player passes from the elbow) at 80.7% and also 22nd in AST% at 15.8%, per stats.nba.com. Furthermore, Hawes ranks third among big men in AST% behind Andrew Bogut and Draymond Green.
Even though the Lance Stephenson - Spencer Hawes trade might have just looked like a dumping of Stephenson at first, it has netted Charlotte a valuable player for the team's motion and 3-point heavy style of play. With Hawes on the books for two more years (and a player option for the third) at 5+ million per season, Charlotte might have landed a good value player for the future who enhances the bench unit's ball movement and helps others to score.