This was not supposed to be a big season for Spencer Hawes in Philadelphia.
The 76ers traded for center Andrew Bynum last summer. He's a two-time NBA champion with the Los Angeles Lakers, was coming off his first All-Star Game appearance and made the All-NBA second team last season.
But Bynum has a history of injuries, and knee problems sidelined him the entire 2012-13 season.
That gave Hawes, who signed a two-year extension with the 76ers last summer, a chance to prove he's more than a backup center.
Even though he hasn't been a full-time starter this season, Hawes is averaging 10.9 points, just off his career best of 11.4, and his rebounding average of 7.2 is just below his career high of 7.3.
And lately Hawes has been at his best. In the 10 games before Saturday's contest against the Charlotte Bobcats, he averaged 15.8 points and 10.9 rebounds.
None of this might have happened if Bynum were healthy.
"I don't know how it would have worked out playing with him," Hawes said. "I don't know what good it does to sit here and speculate about what could have been. That's how you drive yourself crazy.
"But now to have the opportunity to try and get better every game, as frustrating as the season has been for us with our record, but of late, I think we've been playing a lot better basketball. You're always playing for something, whether it's the playoffs or building on something for the future."
Hawes is in his sixth season after being a first-round draft pick by the Kings in 2007. But he's only 24.
So in a league that values size so much that oft-injured Greg Oden and Bynum will have teams interested in them even after not playing this season, the 7-foot-1, 245-pound Hawes still has time to make a bigger name for himself.
Hawes eventually might make a name for himself in politics he's a staunch conservative who joked he could be softening his stances on some issues but for now there is plenty of opportunity for 7-footers in the NBA.
To that end, Hawes said he'd like to become more of a post presence as he continues to develop his game.
When the Kings drafted Hawes, he was lanky and liked to shoot away from the basket.
"Growing up, that was always what I did, and when I came into the league, I was so young and lacking strength, I think I turned away from that a little bit," Hawes said of his post game. "It was something I could try to do, but it really wouldn't benefit me, so you do what you can do, and I drifted out.
"Now I think I've been able to get back in there more and look at the next phase of my game and try to take it to the next level."
One the number of games the Dallas Mavericks still need to win before some players shave their ".500 beards."
Dallas was a game under .500 Thursday and had a barber ready to do the honors, but the Indiana Pacers blew out the Mavericks 103-78.
Saturday, Dallas (36-37) rallied to beat the Chicago Bulls 100-98 on Dirk Nowitzki's three-pointer in the closing seconds.
Tweet of the week
"11 champ;ipnsikp[ ringhs"
That was the first tweet from Hall of Fame coach Phil Jackson (@PhilJackson11), who joined the world of Twitter on March 27. Jackson won six championships with the Bulls and five with the Lakers. He fixed the typos for his next two tweets last week.