Marreese Speights will be entering his fourth season as a 76er. Through his first three seasons, Mo has showed immense potential but also some fatal flaws.
For one flaw, Mo is a cross between Spencer Hawes and Andres Nocioni defensively. No, that’s not a good thing. Mo’s lack of effort on defense is maddening – he has a big body but rarely uses it. He’s not quick enough to rotate to cover the rim or opponents when they stretch the floor even a tiny bit. He doesn’t have natural shot-blocking skills and rarely uses the ones he has. Defensively, he’s a mess. A little effort wouldn’t hurt, but naturally he’s not that good to begin with. Realizing that under most circumstances that Mo will have trouble on that end of the floor is something that we should expect, if he happens to play here for much longer.
For another flaw, Mo likes to do one thing on offense: score. Selfish scorers exist throughout all levels of basketball – the best players are the ones who score at will, putting up more points on the boards than any other. Yes, outscoring opponents is the key to everything in basketball, but some fail to understand that scoring isn’t everything – scoring at the detriment of the team is certainly possible. Mo seemingly fails to understand that scoring does not equate to doing a good job. Setting great screens and spreading the floor for his teammates is just as important as getting his buckets.
But we’ll take those flaws every now and then, because he’s an offensive talent. Mo has easy range out to 20 feet, with a quick release to boot. Few guys his size can stretch the floor like him. He can hit near the basket area too. Mo can score, no doubt about that. He’s also a decent rebounder – though his reasons for being a strong rebounder may correlate with why he’s so unhappy with his role in the first place.
The main reason why Mo Speights doesn’t play is because when he does play he’s not helping the team win. This isn’t high school anymore – players play or don’t play based on merit, not on talent. Likewise, the coaches at this level are smart enough to realize that the most important things aren’t the basic point and rebound stats – it’s winning. And all of those little things that Mo Speights fails to do are what keep him out of the lineup. Those little things – making good rotations, foregoing a shot for a better look, tipping a ball to a teammate – are the things he does poorly. But I don’t think he realizes that the little things keep him from becoming a more productive player, and from playing more.
Instead, he whines and complains about his lack of playing time and wonders why everyone’s against him. We’re not. We want him to play better. He needs to see it from the team’s perspective, that he doesn’t help us win. And that’s all that counts.