This thought just popped into my head as I was walking back to the office from lunch and I thought I'd throw it out there for you guys:
How much of a drop-off would the Sixers see if they put Marreese Speights into the starting lineup for Samuel Dalembert?
Typically the reasons for not starting a rookie go as follows:
- Low basketball IQ, relative to a vet
- Foul problems
Now, in this particular situation, I can see two areas that Dalembert is clearly superior. One is rebounding. Sam is averaging 12.2 boards/36 minutes. You have to give it to the big guy, he works on the boards. The other is probably defense. He has the ability to use his quick feet and quick jumping ability to shut down guys in the post.
Speights doesn't have a ton of minutes, but so far their shot blocking rate is just about even. Speights turns the ball over at a lower rate and fouls a bit more, per 36.
Now, this isn't your typical rookie vs. veteran argument. I'd say Speights has a higher basketball IQ right now than Sam does. On offense, it isn't even close. The kid can shoot, and he knows how to score. Inserting him into the starting lineup could be an alternative way to fix the spacing issues the Sixers have in the half court. A center who needs to be guarded out to 18 feet can unclog the lane not only for Brand in the post, but also for Iguodala, Miller and Thad to drive to the hoop. Not to mention the fact that Speights doesn't have hands of stone, which should help cut down the number of team turnovers. He's also a deer on the break and sticks his nose in the passing lanes (1.5 steals/36 min). He could help the Sixers get back to their running ways.
After seeing him in limited action in the preseason I thought there was a chance that Speights would eventually make Dalembert expendable. I'm now starting to wonder if the team wouldn't be better served to move in that direction now. It's hard to argue that inserting Speights into the starting lineup wouldn't make them a more potent offensive team. If it works out, then you have a spare part in Dalembert and you can start looking at a swap of bad contracts to bring back a player whose skill set would help the team in an area of weakness.
So what do you think, worth a shot?