Hawes in best shape of life, expecting breakout season

Spencer Hawes was there for the beginning and the end. The middle was a frustrating blur.

After getting off to such a promising start with four double-doubles in his first five games, the Sixers’ center soon suffered a litany of injuries, the worst being a left Achilles tendon strain.

Hawes was out for 27 of 29 games during one stretch and — despite coming back and contributing — he wasn’t the same player who began the season.

Entering the 2012-13 season, Hawes is rested and ready. He’s in the best shape of his life and anxiously anticipating that first tip on Oct. 31.

“Last season was a learning experience for me,” said Hawes, who still managed to average 9.6 points, 7.3 rebounds and 1.3 blocked shots per game. “Not playing was hard. I wanted to be on the court with my teammates, but at the same time, I knew that I couldn’t rush back.

“The coaching staff gave me their full support. I feel great now and I’m ready for a breakout season.”

Hawes came back with the understanding that he would likely switch roles to power forward with the addition of center Andrew Bynum.

It’s a win-win situation in his mind.

“Getting Andrew, one of the best centers in the league, is a coup,” Hawes said. “Any team would be happy to get a quality big man like that. This allows me to step out, shoot when I’m open, pass the ball, rebound and do what I do well. I think it’s a great situation for me. If they need me to step in at center, I can do that, too.”

Future bright after busy offseason

The Sixers took a major step last season in pushing the Celtics to the brink in a seven-game Eastern Conference semifinal series. Following the offseason moves, the future looks even brighter. Just ask Spencer Hawes.

“I love what the franchise did in the summer,” said Hawes. “I think the moves were great. We have to go on the court and prove now that we’re ready to take another step.”

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