By convincing the Utah Jazz and Denver Nuggets to re-shape the Andre Iguodala signing and the Andris Biedrins-Richard Jefferson trade into a three team sign-and-trade, the Warriors gained access to the mid-level exception and drastically increased their offseason flexibility. With this exception, they signed Marreese Speights to a three-year, $10 million deal.
Following a midseason trade from Memphis to Cleveland, Speights averaged 18.5 minutes per game, scoring 10.2 points on a 51.5 percent true shooting percentage and 5.1 rebounds per game on a 15.1 percent total rebound percentage (league average for power forwards is 13.6 percent).
Though he has not been consistent throughout his career, Speights can do a reasonable Carl Landry impression. Here are their offensive Synergy stats from last year:
Though Landry was clearly more efficient, he benefited from superior surrounding talent. Both relied on the same types of plays to score, though Speights spotted up more often than Landry, and Landry was even more reliant on the post up.
Speights, much like Landry, is not a very good defender but is not bad to the point of being disastrous. We can expect Speights to reasonably replicate Landry’s production from last year. However, he may not be guaranteed that opportunity.
Draymond Green, despite his offensive struggles, proved to be a valuable contributor last season. Though his versatility allows him to play small forward, Green will compete for minutes at power forward. Green provides a very different dynamic, both offensively and defensively, than Speights. He is a much better defender, capable of guarding either forward position, containing the pick and roll, and defending guards when necessary. For comparison, Speights had a defensive RAPM of -0.6, while Green’s was an impressive +1.0, according to Jerry Engelmann’s calculations.
Proper defensive positioning and rotations appear ingrained in his mind (he was often the only defender making the rotation to the middle from the weakside against a pick and roll during summer league), a possible product of his four year college career. His length lets him harass passing lanes while maintaining position (or as Warriors fans call it, the reverse Monta Ellis).
Offensively, Green often appears inept. He is capable of making the right pass and can finish respectably but only occasional semblances of an outside shot and cannot create off the dribble. If his defensive RAPM of 1.0 was impressive, his offensive -2.8 is horrific.
Green was productive offensively in the playoffs, largely as a result of a likely unsustainable level of three point shooting. However, simply by virtue of his position on the floor, he can help his teammates offensively. Though not necessarily effective from the perimeter, Green understands the offensive role of a perimeter player.
Defenders do not respect his shot yet by positioning himself beyond the three-point line, a place where Speights would not dare venture. He draws defenders a few steps towards the perimeter and removes an offensive body from the lane, opening space for the rest of the offense.
Speights and Green bring are very different players. Their relative playing time will consistently be influenced by matchups, but may also reflect the style Mark Jackson desires to play. Green may emerge as the go to backup power forward if Jackson wants to maintain a harassing, versatile defense and a well-spaced, 4-out offense throughout the game, while Speights may take control as Landry often did last year, creating off the bench, attempting to maximize offensive output to overcome defensive flaws.