Five-year vet Marreese Speights will be looked upon to provide a scoring punch off the bench this year for the Golden State Warriors as David Lee’s primary backup. Unless you’re a hardcore basketball fan, you may have never heard of Speights. He’s not exactly a household name, having spent the bulk of his career under the radar with the Philadelphia 76ers during the post-AI era (aside for his brief, forgettable return in the 09-10 season), but he has proven to be effective in the pick & roll game, and possesses a nice jumper out to about 19-20 feet. He’ll be a welcome addition, being that Andrew Bogut and Jermaine O’Neal score mainly on the block, and Festus Ezeli is still an offensive work in progress.
For all that he brings on the offensive end, his deficiencies, much like Lee, lie on the defensive end of the floor. While Lee has improved steadily since the arrival of coach Mark Jackson, Carl Landry was still the better defender. Landry’s defensive skills and toughness are what that the team will miss the most. While long and athletic at 6-10, Speights hasn’t exactly blossomed into a prolific shot blocker (0.6 BPG career), and won’t be confused for an enforcer in the paint any time soon. It was his struggles on the defensive end that ultimately landed him in former Sixers coach Doug Collins’ doghouse, ending with him being shipped to the Memphis Grizzlies. After a season and a half in Memphis, he was traded once again, this time to the Cleveland Cavaliers where he performed well during the second half of last season.
While he has some holes in his game, Speights can definitely contribute to this team. He’s easily the most athletic big currently on the roster, and can run the floor very well, which will bode well when coach Jackson wants to push the tempo. With a revitalized Jermaine O’Neal, the pair together could form a formidable tandem when Bogut and Lee come off the floor.