PR 2011: Marreese Speights

Hey, he can play defense sometimes!

*Photo from the Bleacher Report. You can’t deny that they have good pictures. Unlike the words, they don’t make you dumber.

The first 3 player reviews were largely positive writings, since I wrote them on 3 of the team’s 4 best players. Well, the next two won’t be nearly as positive. Marresse Speights has been a Sixer now for almost 3 years, and not much has changed since the day he entered the league. He’s very talented, but has yet to figure everything out. Which is a shame, since everyone in the Sixers organization seems to think the world of the guy.*

*Dionte Christmas may not, though. You’d have to ask him. If you don’t get the reference Google might work.

The knock on Mo was his “motor”, his desire to play hard all the time. He had (and still has) most of the tools: range on his shot, physical tools, and loads of potential. Unfortunately, he’s never turned that potential into consistent, meaningful production for the Sixers.

That doesn’t mean he can’t turn it around in the future, since everything the Sixers saw when they drafted him is still there. He’s a little bigger and has experienced some injuries, but the future still can be bright. Next I’ll break down what he does best and where he can improve.

OFFENSE

Shooting

50.4% FG, 25% 3FG, 75,4% FT

Mo has good range for a 6’10″ guy, as he can hit consistently from around 20 feet, though he’s not a 3-point shooter yet. He likes to take those jumpers, especially on pick-and-pops, as he rarely rolls to the rim after setting a pick. I don’t believe he’s any more effective from closer to the rim than from further away, as he seems to him about half his shots from anywhere within that range. He ‘could’ develop deeper range I think in the future, though no one can be sure if that will happen.

Though he has good range, I believe he still takes too many jumpers. He’s also effective around the rim with his touch and size, so he could do more damage down there.

Scoring

5.6 PPG, 4.6 FGA, 1.3 FTA

Mo has two ways to score: jumpers and put-backs. Mo likes to shoot, we all know that. On jumpers, either he gets them uncontested coming off a pick or he breaks down his defenders. And by breaking down, I mean taking a jab-step or two, creating space to let the jumper go. And this is consistent – he ALWAYS does it. It’s another NBA scouting flaw, as defenders get fooled every time: as a defender, I would WANT him to drive. I would even dare him to put the ball on the floor, because it usually won’t work out well for the Sixers. More on this in the next section.

Because he takes so many jumpers, he doesn’t get fouled often. He doesn’t utilize a pump-fake, so he’ll be fouled usually on put backs or other possessions deep in the lane.

Passing  and Ball-Handling

0.5 AST, 0.7 TO

Mo likes to score – so when he gets the ball, he doesn’t like to pass it. When he does pass the ball, it’s usually just a basic part of the offense (getting the ball at the top of the key) or as part of a give and go, where he’ll set a screen and pop to spread the floor or get space to release a shot should he get the ball back.

He doesn’t get enough opportunities to give up possessions, since he usually just shoots jumpers instead of putting the ball on the floor. When he does, he’s virtually out-of-control, as he isn’t a great ball handler and dribbles into defenders just waiting to take charges. Opponents luckily don’t give him that opportunity, as they prefer for him just to shoot.

DEFENSE

Rebounding

3.5 REB, 1.0 OREB, 2.5 DREB

Marreese’s rebounding totals in limited minutes aren’t terrible, but they could be better. His effort on rebounding and defense in general depends on his mood, his playing time, and his offensive production. He can be a ferocious rebounder at times, but at others he doesn’t give any effort. It’s a classic effort issue, and while players that need to be ‘pampered’ (for the lack of a better term – I mean players that need to “get theirs” to play effectively elsewhere) can be troublesome, they can also be very useful (see Elton Brand). However, I’m not sure that Speights is good enough right now to be a guy a winning team needs to pamper.

Anyway, back to rebounding, Speights has the size and length to be a strong rebounder, and with more playing time and effort would be much more effective than he currently is.

Individual and Team Defense

0.3 BLK, 0.1 STL

Speights does make an impact defensively most nights. Unfortunately, his defense can actively hurt the team, and forces the coaches to not play him at times. While defense is largely about effort and coaching schemes, there are some players who are naturally bad defenders. For example, trying as he might, Jason Kapono is a bad defensive player. He just doesn’t have the lateral quickness it takes to keep up with any NBA perimeter players. Likewise, there are players who are naturally suited to playing defense. Andre Iguodala is one of those.

With Mo, it’s hard to tell whether that a lack of effort or a lack of defensive ability is the key to his defensive struggles. While he doesn’t always try, he also doesn’t seem to be able to stay in front of some players. He’s not a tweener like Young, but depending on the opponent he’s either too slow or not strong enough. That happens with a lot of players, but without full commitment on that end Mo will never be any good defensively. And unfortunately, that will limit his overall impact on this or any other franchise.

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