Marreese Speights is the subject of tonight's Early Predictions
series entry. After the jump I'll take a stab at project his stats and share my though process.
In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king (or something like that). The Sixers don't have a single center on their roster with any history of solid defensive play, they don't really have anyone capable of average defensive play in the middle either. Their best defensive option is probably Elton Brand, who is not a center and probably wasn't a viable defensive option at the position even in his prime. If your name is Marreese Speights, this is great news for you. Since neither guy can defend, Speights basically just needs to prove he's a better option on the offensive end to win the bulk of the minutes. If history is any indicator, that won't be a problem at all for Speights. Here are my predictions, more thoughts after:
- Minutes: 1,500
- Points/game: 11.5
- Rebs/game: 5.8
- Ast/game: 1.0
- Steals/game: 0.7
- Blocks/game: 0.75
- TOV/game: 0.9
- DNPCDs: 0
- FG%: 52%
- 3PT%: <10%
Speights is the best scoring option among the bigs. He can step out to about 20 feet and hit a jumper with regularity, he's got the size and touch to work in the post. He's a fairly efficient scorer, the best rebounder of the bunch (which isn't saying much). Judging by production, there's no doubt in my mind Speights would be the best starter of available options.
Now, there are plenty of ways Speights can be his own worst enemy. First, the guy needs to get in shape. He ballooned after the knee injury last season, and I really don't think he had the stamina to play heavy minutes. Second, he needs to give effort on the defensive end. I have serious doubts as to whether this will ever happen. Honestly, I don't think he has the mental capacity to learn to become a good/very good defender, but effort alone would go a long way (and certainly elevate him above his competition on this roster).
While I'm not hopeful, there is one area of defense that Speights has shown an aptitude for, drawing charges. He took 22 charges last season, and while this isn't really my preferred method of defending the paint, it is effective in a couple of ways. (1) When he successfully draws the charge, it obviously not only prevents a potential score, but it hangs a personal foul on the offender and gains possession of the ball (2) Maybe most importantly, it stresses moving your feet to get in proper position, which is a technique that's very important if you aren't a natural shotblocker who can swat shots from behind. Consider this one step closer to learning the defensive fundamentals of the game.
Thoughts in the comments, as usual.