Golden State Warriors: What Happened to Marreese Speights?


Marreese Speights was one of the top backup big men in the league last season, but has suffered a horrible drop-off since the playoffs. What’s wrong with the Warriors’ big man?

Last season, Marreese Speights stunned much of the Golden State Warriors’ fanbase with his performances, proving those that were counting him out wrong. After an offseason where he was pulled over for a DUI charge, Speights rebounded well and quickly established himself as a key component of the Warriors’ second unit. The Warriors’ organization rewarded him by picking up his team option for this season, despite looking at all possible cost-cutting avenues.

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However, the Marreese Speights we’ve seen this season is nothing like the Speights from last season. After posting up career highs in points scored and what is perhaps his best season, Speights has been nothing but a disappointment this season. Averaging just 5.0 points and 3.0 rebounds per game, Speights is fast becoming the lone lowlight of what has been an incredible Warriors’ season.

The worst part of it all is that the Warriors could use some of last season’s Speights this year. With Andrew Bogut on his second injury stint of the young season and rookie Kevon Looney out for the season, the Warriors have had to deal with their fair share of injuries to their big men. As a result, they’ve had to count on Festus Ezeli and Draymond Green more (both of whom are averaging a career high in minutes per game), while Speights’ minutes have seen a drastic reduction.

In what should have been Speights’ best chance at earning a big payday at the end of the season (where he will enter unrestricted free agency), he hasn’t been able to seize the opportunity given to him with injuries to the Warriors’ big men. In fact, his playing time has decreased despite the shortage of big men.

For Speights, the poor performances began after he injured his right calf in the Western Conference Semi-finals last season against the Memphis Grizzlies. We didn’t see Speights for the rest of the Grizzlies’ series and the Conference Finals against the Houston Rockets. In the Finals, Speights saw just 15 minutes of playing time over six games, but that was largely due to strategy, rather than his poor form.

But honestly, it just comes down to the fact that Speights’ shots aren’t falling. It doesn’t matter which part of the floor you choose, Speights is shooting a career low in every location on the court (except the long 2-zone), which is a bad sign for the Warriors moving forward.

Unfortunately, I have no quick fixes for this problem. Perhaps Speights just needs a confidence boost or time to allow his body to fully heal from the calf injury from last season. It could also be that Speights is simply heading towards the twilight of his career (despite being just 28), and that last season was an anomaly. The opposite could be true – Speights might just be having an off-season, and that the Marreese Speights we know from last season is really who he is.

The only thing we know is that the Warriors need Speights to step up. Draymond Green isn’t the type of player who will complain about having too much playing time, but as we head into the dog days of the regular season, the Warriors will need to keep a close eye on each player’s minutes. Speights hasn’t been pulling his weight this season, and if this continues, the Warriors could look to move him for someone more productive once the trade window opens.