Up next in the Feelings On
series is none other than Marreese Speights. The man who gained 30 pounds over the course of an NBA season.
Speights is clearly a member of the "if only" All Star team. In his case, if only he could play average defense, he could be a starter in this league and make a big impact. He's that gifted at scoring the ball. Mid-range, inside, running the floor. He can pretty much everything you need a scoring big to do. He's a complete enigma. So raw, yet his scoring game looks so polished at times.
Speights falls on my move him if you can get some value for him list right now, but I don't think he's beyond redemption. If you look around the league, plenty of teams have one-dimensional big men. Speights did seem to work on his positioning on defense as the season wore on, he drew a number of charges in the meaningless games toward the end of the year. He's also not a terrible defensive rebounder (especially when he's compared to Thad, Brand and Jason Smith). He may almost never pass, but when he does, he's not a bad passer. I think Speights could be coached into a viable rotational player, and possibly a difference-maker in the right role.
Unfortunately, Eddie Jordan and the team as a whole spent this entire season screwing the kid up. First, he was the golden boy in Jordan's offense. He was on the floor for big minutes, he was never held accountable for his defense, the message was "If you score
the ball, you play. Period." Then he was injured, Eddie Jordan (or Ed Stefanski, or whoever) starting feeling the heat of an extremely slow start, so Speights was rushed back. He was clearly still hurt. He was clearly out of shape, and it showed. Now instead of being an offensive dynamo and a defensive sieve, he was an earthbound big who couldn't get up and down the floor, and still a defensive sieve. His minutes dwindled, his waistline continued to balloon and his sophomore season was essentially a wash.
Gone with Speights' development was an honest look at a lineup that actually might have a chance of working. Sam Dalembert and Speights complement each other. Sam erases mistakes on the defensive end, he owns the glass and he's 100% capable of taking the toughest defense assignment in the front court. On the offensive end, he's basically a lob or nothing. Speights needs to be hidden on the defensive end, but he can absolutely pick up the point production for a lesser running mate up front. Eddie Jordan had these guys on the floor together for exactly 37 minutes this entire season. 37.
There are reasons to be hopeful, for sure. Speights got a raw deal this season. He was surrounded by buffoons. At the same time, Speights seems like his own worst enemy to me. Does he have the work ethic to strengthen his weaknesses? Does he have the brain to develop his game? Does he have the motor to last an entire season and give the effort needed? I can't say I'm optimistic about any of those questions. I see Speights as a guy who may be coached up to a legit starter in this league, but I also think the odds of that happening aren't very high. If he has value around the league, if you can use him to either move a bad contract or accumulate an asset (player or pick), then by all means, let someone else take on the project. If you're talking about just moving him for the sake of moving him, hold on to him and cross your fingers.
Your feelings on Marreese in the comments, as usual.