Apr 14, 2013; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers power forward Marreese Speights (15) handles the ball against Philadelphia 76ers power forward Arnett Moultrie (5) during the first quarter at the Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports
Marreese Speights is one of the four non-draft pick acquisitions for the Golden State Warriors and will fill the void left by Carl Landry. He will have some serious shoes to fill as Landry was a phenomenal low-post enforcer off the bench and provided much needed backup to Andrew Bogut and David Lee in the center and power forward positions respectively. Let’s take an in-depth look at the big man’s game and what a Warriors fan should expect from him next season.
Speights averaged 10.2 points in 18.5 minutes per game while playing for the Cleveland Cavaliers, but the stats don’t tell the whole story. Arguably the most exciting part of Speights’ game is his ability to score from outside the key, specifically in the range of 16 feet to the three-point line. During the 2012-13 season, he shot 48.4 percent on 186 attempts from that area.
This is something new Speights brings to the table. Lee and Landry shot 41.8 percent and 43.4 percent in that same area respectively, while taking a comparable amount of attempts. This “unique” skill lends coach Mark Jackson increased flexibility and a whole new set of potential plays that incorporate Speights’ ability to hit that shot.
Despite his ability to score well at the rim (54.5 percent) and in that 16 foot plus zone, Speights sported just a 44.5 percent field goal percentage for the 2012-13 season. This is mainly because of his inability to score anywhere in between those areas.
He shot an atrocious 32.5 percent on all shots within the three-point arc that were greater than three feet from the rim but within 16 feet. His poor percentage there didn’t stop him from shooting, as he attempted 203 shots in that zone.
So long as coach Jackson reins in Speights’ shooting in those areas and restricts him to either taking a shot at the rim, a shot more than 16 feet away, or passing, the Warriors will be able to use the 6’10’’ forward efficiently.
Speights averaged 5.1 rebounds per game in 18.5 minutes of play time in Cleveland, a good number for a person who is frequently not in the best position to rebound because of his outside shooting. Speights will be able to keep up with Landry’s rebounding numbers if given similar minutes. In fact, the former Cavalier averages more rebounds per 36 minutes than the future King.
In terms of Speights vs. Lee, If we look at advanced stats, Lee had a Total Rebound Percentage of 16.8 for this season and Speights had one of 15.8. That means that of all the available rebounds on the floor when those players are playing, Lee grabbed 16.8 percent of them and Speights grabbed 15.8. I tend to like percentages more than just rebounds because it takes into accounts different teams pace and gives a more normalized way to compare player’s abilities.
The biggest part of Speights’ defense will be his ability to bring toughness down low and shut down opposing forwards. The Florida State University product held opposing power forwards to an 8.3 PER according to 82.games.com. Obviously it is a small sample size, but the number still shows that Speights makes his opponents work for their points and will offer some much needed defense when he replaces Lee. For comparison’s sake, opposing power forwards enjoyed an above-average PER of 16.7 against Lee.
Another aspect of Speights’ defense that is worth mentioning is his ability to block shots. Landry and Lee were almost non-existent shot blockers, while Speights’ additional inch of height has given him the ability to get more swats. In just 18.3 minutes of playtime per game Speights averaged 0.7 blocks, which may not seem like much, but if he was given comparable minutes to Landry, you could expect him to reject at least one shot per game.
Speights has averaged a little more than 16 minutes per game for his entire six years of playing the game professionally. That being said, he will be looking for his breakout season and if he can absorb Landry’s near 24 minutes effectively, we could see the Speight’s seventh season be his biggest yet. When coming in for fellow FSU alumni, Speights will bring a combination of long twos, lockdown defense,and shot-blocking that neither Lee nor Landry bring to the table.