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thunderbird1245
06-18-2008, 02:39 PM
With 8 days to go before the draft, with this 12th edition of my draft threads I examine the talented Florida power forward Marresse Speights. Speights is a player likely to be selected somewhere between 10 and 20 on draft night, and will join his ex Florida teammates Joakim Noah and Al Horford as high quality young big men drafted in the first round.

Speights has alot to like when you examine his game, and a few flaws that need to be closely examined and discussed by all teams looking at him. I will lay out what I see as his advantages and disadvantages here, and let the rest of you discuss his merits.

Let me start with what I see as his positive attributes as a player, of which there are many.

First, Speights has the legitimate size, strength, and athleticism to play the position of power forward. He isn't too slow, too weak, too skinny, or "undersized" for his natural position of power forward. In this draft full of tweeners and guys who have mismatched skill sets and sizes, that is a comfortable feeling. You can put him on the practice floor on day one and he wont be physically overmatched or intimidated.

Secondly, he isn't NEARLY as raw as some of the other bigs mentioned in this draft. He is way more advanced in his fundamentals than kids like Randolph (who has poor shooting form), Hibbert (whom I like but is mechanical and slow sometimes) or Jordan (who is a fundamental mess). Speights looks better than all of these guys to me, with a higher floor than any of these guys and a reasonably high ceiling too.

Speights has a variety of moves, but no dominant "go to" move, which is somewhat similar to another big man we've had in Indianapolis for years, Jermaine O'Neal. Offensively, Speights shows a limited but nice array of weapons, including a nice jump hook he gets good lift and extension on. He is fluid in running the floor to score in transition, although he doesnt always sprint down the floor as hard as he could, which earned him many of the lectures he recieved from Coach Billy Donovan.

It is important I think when discussing his low post offensive game to know a little more about the coaching philosophy of the Billy Donovan/Rick Pitino school of post play. The Gators under Donovan run a lot of "duck ins", resulting in not alot of true NBA like post up chances. What I mean by that is that he is asked to screen and then "dive" to the area near the rim, instead of powering across the lane to fight for position under the low block. This philosphy doesnt give a post guy the option of really fighting for position much, instead they are taught to concede the high ground and dive underneath the defender to be in position for lob passes, drives and dishes from perimeter guys, or offensive putbacks.

You see the Florida and Louisville bigs do a lot of "pindown" screens and then try to "seal" their defender, instead of spinning in front of the defender to post up. In alot of ways all the Florida bigs will need to be reprogrammed slightly at the NBA level to not do that, but to instead open yourself up to the pass and post up strong.

Now, playing that way means you are asked to catch alot of difficult passes over a defender. Speights shows very good hands inside, and seems to catch passes even if they arent thrown directly to him. He seems to have the fluidity and flexibility to bring the ball in without getting incredibly off balance, although in general getting knocked off balance is a weakness he has when posting up inside, with a defender behind him pushing him.

Partly because of the Florida style of post play, but also because I think he struggles with it, one of Speights biggest offensive weaknesses is the lack of will/toughness/desire/technique to establish deep post position and to fight for it and maintain it once he has it. How big and "why" he has this weakness is going to have to be determined in his workouts, because at Florida he wasn't asked to do that, in fact he was asked to do the opposite. My guess is as an analyst that this will in fact be a weakness for him through out his career, as he doesnt to me strike me as a player who likes super physical play. I do freely admit I could be wrong about this, but I'm just watching film and trying to read between the lines. I guarantee teams who work him out are trying to determine this key question themselves. I don't think it will be a matter of strength or ability, but instead maybe technique and toughness and style.

From the outside, Speights shows nice outside form, except his results don't always match how good he looks shooting it. In this regard he reminds me a little of Dunleavy, who looks like a better shooter than he really actually is. But all in all, Speights looks like someone who will be able to make the turnaround jumper, the fadeaway, the pick and pop midrange jumper, the elbow area jumper, and the 15 foot baseline shot. He has a nice soft touch in the paint, and a nice finesse type of game in traffic. He does shy away from contact sometimes (which annoys me) but when he is fouled I think he will be a quality foul shooter. Because of his nature and the way basketball is evolving, along with his great textbook form, I would not be surprised if he ends up developing 3 point range eventually.

What strikes me about Speights, and this is more of a key than many of you think, is that he isn't clumsy or awkward in how his body moves. He seems "comfortable" in his own body, if that makes any sense. He has no dribble drive game right now to speak of, but it isn't impossible to me that he could develop one. I can see him facing up and driving guys who are slower than him, then spinning into a turnaround jump shot, or blowing by slow guys on the baseline for a flush. He has that potential, but hasnt shown the capacity to do it yet in his development.

His fluidity and body control mean he has the ability to really be a great rebounder when motivated. The upside of all the time the Gators spend letting someone fron their bigs is that this enables kids like Speights to be in prime rebounding position, and he took advantage of that at Gainesville. He isn't great or partucularly interested in blocking out that much or that physically, but as you know, that isn't all that imprtant to me when analyzing rebounders. He has great hands and when of a mind to, he really goes after the ball well. He will put up big numbers as an NBA power forward rebounder, but I don't like the fact that he doesnt always attack the boards as hard as he should, his effort is somewhat inconsistent. What lets him put up better numbers than many is the fact that he does pull in what he gets his hands on, he doesnt tip alot of balls like so many guys do, he pulls them in strongly, most of the time with two hands.

One thing about him that annoyed me quite a bit is that he held the ball too long after rebounding it, and he didnt seem to have the strong 2 handed overhead outlet pass in his game, the one I enjoy watching Kevin Love make so much. I don't know if it is coaching, instinct, lack of coaching, or what, but at a skill he should excel at, Speights didnt really utilize. It almost struck me as he wanted to pose just a bit and take a breath first.......maybe it was my imagination, or Florida's lack of guard play this year, I don't know. Lots of NBA guys can't make the outlet pass well, so it isnt a critical thing, its just something I wish Speights had in his game that he hasnt shown me so far.

Defensively, he should be better than he really is. When guarding someone, he often played behind his man and allowed his man to post up and recieve the ball. It didnt matter in college, because at that level few could score over him anyway. But in the NBA he will be a sieve unless he learns to play defense BEFORE his man recieves it, not after.

When he contested jump shots, he was really effective at it. One skill he does seem to have on film is the ability to contest/block shots with either hand, which is a hidden skill not many have. He is long, has good instincts in this regard, and can really bother a shooter when he wants to. Like many things about him, his motor ran only intermittently on this, as sometimes he'd just let his man shoot uncontested, particularly if the game wasnt close or if he had played in a longer stretch.

As a help defender, he is all steak and no sizzle. Occasionally, he will come from nowhere and block or alter a shot, but just as often he will either be out pf position and end up being late to help, or won't bother to help at all. He should be better on this end of the floor than he is, and he will have to be coached up in this area.

The way his minutes were distributed at Florida is interesting. While Donovan loves to sub like crazy anyway, he seemed to take great care to substitute Speights in and out of the game more than he did his other core players, choosing to play him in shorter spurts than most. You'd have to say this worked mostly, as Speights averaged a solid 15 and 8 in a very tough conference playing just over half the game. But you have to ask yourself if Speights was that good, why didnt he play more? It wasn't like Florida was particularly good, in fact they missed the tournament this year. What gives?

I suspect the answer was what Coach Knight called "the fundamental skill of concentration."

Speights looked to me on film and seems to be a player who struggled to focus and concentrate on the task at hand, and let his mind wander too often when he was on the floor. Much like all of us do at our jobs sometimes, or when we are driving a long distance and put the car in "cruise control", that is the way Mareese Speights occasionally played in college.

The inability to practice/play well for long stretches. The inconsistent motor. The being used in short spurts. The streaky play of his team in general. The simple mistakes that a player of Speights caliber shouldnt make. The inability to follow game plans well and read situations. All of these things are yellow flags about Speights at his current state of maturity, and raise questions about whether his mental approach to the game and being a professional is going to cut it in the men's league that is the NBA.

On the other hand, those same attributes can be described as youth, immaturity, and a lack of competition or challenge, like a really brilliant student bored in a public school classroom. Maybe he just NEEDS the challenge and drive that an upgrade in competition and prestige can give him. Who knows?

My other main question about Speights would be, as a player who looks to be good enough to be a teams primary post scorer eventually, is this: "What type of post player and other players do you need to pair around him to make him as an individual and your team as successful as can be?"

Much like I think it is difficult in building a roster around players like Jermaine O'Neal and Elton Brand and Al Jefferson and Rasheed Wallace (the players he reminds me of the most currently if he pans out), I too think if you select Speights, you have to have a long term plan on how you want to fill out the rest of your front court. It is easier to build a team around the center position, but Speights isnt that...he is a primary scoring "4 man". Those guys are hard to plan around.

Basically, what I am saying is that Speights will require another big guy along side him, preferable bigger than he is, so he wont have to defend the opponents best player or biggest player. This isnt a criticism, it is just a fact. Speights isnt a physical enough of a force to be your biggest, baddest player, he will need help along side him.

In spite of the fact that I think Speights has concentration issues, motivation issues, awareness issues, toughness ussues, and a few annoying flaws, I would have absolutely no problem if the Pacers chose to draft him either at #11 or in a later pick acquired somehow. I think Speights projects to be an 18-19 pt per game scorer, and an 8-9 rebound type of guy in the league, while eventually giving you an average defender as a "4" man. He won't lead your team to a championship, but he looks like he is clearly an upper echelon, top 10-15 power forward in this league eventually.

I have already mentioned some players he reminds me of in the current day, but I have another one from the past to throw out. Let's call Marreese Speights' best comparible the following ex Celtic:

Cedric "Cornbread" Maxwell.



As always, the above is just my opinion.

Tbird

blanket
06-18-2008, 02:45 PM
Been waiting for this one. Thanks.

ABADays
06-18-2008, 03:10 PM
I don't understand how you aren't a scout with some organization. Aside from that idea I think, at the very least, you should be doing some kind of fantasy draft sheet or something. Anyone interested in investing?

Gyron
06-18-2008, 03:17 PM
T-Bird, Do you work for the Pacers? Cause I think you probably should if you don't.....

Justin Tyme
06-18-2008, 03:35 PM
Yes thanx, indeedy!

I was hoping you would do Speights! I like what you have written, and I would love to have Speights in a Pacers' uni as JO's replacement. I've stated before numerous times I like this kid, and I wouldn't have a problem drafting him at 11.

I do believe the Pacers need to get another 1st pick around 20 for Courtney Lee and trade up in the second round in order to get George Hill. If they could draft Speights, Lee, and Hill, I truly believe the Pacers have some building blocks for the future to go along with Granger. Notice I never mentioned Dunleavy. I'd like to see him traded, for some other parts to the puzzle, maybe Portland.

blanket
06-18-2008, 03:52 PM
Yes thanx, indeedy!

I was hoping you would do Speights! I like what you have written, and I would love to have Speights in a Pacers' uni as JO's replacement. I've stated before numerous times I like this kid, and I wouldn't have a problem drafting him at 11.

I do believe the Pacers need to get another 1st pick around 20 for Courtney Lee and trade up in the second round in order to get George Hill. If they could draft Speights, Lee, and Hill, I truly believe the Pacers have some building blocks for the future to go along with Granger. Notice I never mentioned Dunleavy. I'd like to see him traded, for some other parts to the puzzle, maybe Portland.

I would sign off on that.

Maybe Portland would do Dunleavy for Blake and Frye. :whoknows:

Justin Tyme
06-18-2008, 04:21 PM
I would sign off on that.

Maybe Portland would do Dunleavy for Blake and Frye. :whoknows:

I could definately live with that! Part of the deal could be the Pacers get one of their 2nd round picks too or at the least swap our 2nd round #41 pick for their 2nd round #33 pick.

idioteque
06-18-2008, 07:01 PM
Dunleavy for Blake and Frye?

I'd like to think Dun is worth more than that. I'd also like to think the salaries probably don't work.

If there are no guards on the board we want, hell maybe even if there are, Speights seems like a great choice if he is available.

eldubious
06-18-2008, 07:10 PM
Is it me or does Speights resemble Diogu? I would rather invest in Arthur.

blanket
06-18-2008, 07:23 PM
Dunleavy for Blake and Frye?

I'd like to think Dun is worth more than that. I'd also like to think the salaries probably don't work.


Realgm says they do, at least

blanket
06-18-2008, 07:25 PM
Draft Express's Win Scores statistical analysis of the draft prospects rates Speights as the 3rd best player in this year's draft (after Love and Beasley):

http://www.draftexpress.com/article/2008-Win-Scores-NBA-Draft-Preview-2932/

Marreese Speights: 7.2 PAWS/40

Coming out of the shadows of Al Horford, David Lee, and Joakim Noah is yet another excellent Florida PF prospect. Speights offers a strong set of big man skills and delivered an astounding 12.4 PAWS/40 during 2006-2007, though under limited minutes. Even after the departure of Noah and Horford, Speights posted a 7.2 PAWS/40, but played a mere 24 minutes per game, mostly due to poor conditioning. Now entering the draft process, Speights has made great strides in conditioning, though questions on work ethic remain.

Given his stellar production, Speights is a deserved lottery pick and even makes a solid statistical argument for a top 5 selection.

rm1369
06-18-2008, 07:47 PM
Is it me or does Speights resemble Diogu? I would rather invest in Arthur.

Diogu's main problem is that he hasn't been able to improve his defensive recognition and passing ability. Both are absolutley horrid. While neither are strengths for Speights, IMO he will be better than Diogu (in those two areas) the minute he steps on an NBA court. Thats more a testament to how bad diogu is than anything. Diogu would be a decent player if he bacame average in those areas.

The other main issue with Diogu is his size. Physically Speights is the prototypical NBA PF, IMO. Diogu's size (height primarily) has always been a question mark for the poistion.

Other than the top guys that won't fall, Westbrook and Speights are the two guys I like at 11 the most. I think both already show enough skill wise that I have little question they will have long productive NBA careers (unlike McGee and Jordan). Both have shown improvement from their Freshman to Sophmore years. And both have enough physical tools that they have very high ceilings IMO. I'd probably favor westbrook because of need (I think he'll make the transition to PG), but I'd be happy with either.

Infinite MAN_force
06-18-2008, 09:33 PM
Is it me or does Speights resemble Diogu? I would rather invest in Arthur.

Considering Arthur's problem is being undersized, while speight's isn't. I fail to see your reasoning. Diogu's #1 problem is his size, well, his height anyway.

QuickRelease
06-18-2008, 10:36 PM
Considering Arthur's problem is being undersized, while speight's isn't. I fail to see your reasoning. Diogu's #1 problem is his size, well, his height anyway.

Yeah, I wasn't sure what that meant either. Diogu's biggest problem is his height on defense. It isn't really that big an issue on the offensive end.

wintermute
06-19-2008, 12:06 AM
speights sounds pretty good, among the big man project types anyway.

but did we work him out? i know we've had hibbert, koufus, and jordan, with arthur and randolph coming up. among guards we've had dj augustin with possibly chalmers and westbrook too.

with a guy like speights, who's not expected to go before our pick, it would seem that no workout invite = no interest on our part.

Mr. Sobchak
06-19-2008, 12:11 AM
speights sounds pretty good, among the big man project types anyway.

but did we work him out? i know we've had hibbert, koufus, and jordan, with arthur and randolph coming up. among guards we've had dj augustin with possibly chalmers and westbrook too.

with a guy like speights, who's not expected to go before our pick, it would seem that no workout invite = no interest on our part.

He worked out. You can see an interview with him on pacers.com.

wintermute
06-19-2008, 12:14 AM
oops my bad. yeah i just saw it :D

Taterhead
06-19-2008, 12:45 AM
Nice analysis. I like Speights potential very much, but I hate "big man disease". A lot of these big guys have had it so easy coming up through high school, AAU and even college, that they never develop that work ethic, self analysis and discipline that elite smaller players have to. For most of them it's too late by the time they hit the pros. In real life, most of the kids who grow up and excel in thier professions are the ones who developed the work ethic early in life, the ones who struggle to do so are usually the ones who never develop this. Because it's very hard to just all the sudden "develop" a solid work ethic in your 20's. This will be amplified by the security of millions of dollars and the social status that come with the NBA.

To be honest, I would steer clear of any player that has this problem. It probably explains why he is closer to pick 20 than 10 at this point, because his talent level on the offensive end is top ten material. The Pacers have enough guys with these effort issues, IMO.

Speights strikes me as a Kwame Brown type. He has the tools, but doesn't give his best everyday. And he will likely never live up to his potential because of it. He will find that in the NBA he won't be the biggest guy on the floor anymore, and everything he does on the court will be challenged by guys as big and as athletic as he is. What separates you then is your work ethic and desire, not your size and athletic ability anymore. And he will have to work a lot harder than he is use to just to make it on an NBA team and get limited minutes. So a part of me doubts that he will be able to dig down and find it in himself to work hard enough to become an elite player at the next level. I see him as a likely first big off the bench to try and come in and give you some instant offense, and there will always be a chance he develops into more than that.