Why Lakers Should Sign Mo Speights!
Marreese Speights is the only candidate who could give the Los Angeles Lakers what Boogie could have given them on offense and defense
The Lakers’ search for a center to fill the void caused by DeMarcus Cousins’ injury should focus on Marreese Speights, AKA Mo Buckets, the candidate who can best replicate what they would have gotten from a healthy Boogie.
The recent news that the Lakers are planning to hold an individual workout for Marreese Speights has to be welcome news for Lakers fans dismayed at the crazy reports the Lakers were considering trading for Dwight Howard. While the Lakers also plan to workout Howard as well as Joakim Noah and possibly Marcin Gortat, the 31-year old sharp shooting Speights is the only candidate who fits offensively alongside LeBron James and Anthony Davis.
That Speights is being included in the planned workouts is interesting as Lakers’ head coach Frank Vogel attended a free agent workout for him last month in Las Vegas. Speights played in China for the Guangzhou Longlions last year, averaging 22.7 points, 7.5 boards, and 3.1 threes per game while shooting 36% from deep. His conversion into a stretch five began when he joined the Warriors in 2013–14, winning a championship ring in 2014–15.
At 6–10, 244 pounds, Speights has the size and physicality Anthony Davis wants playing alongside him defensively to guard the big centers who like to bang and play bully ball in the post like Joel Embiid and Stephen Adams. While Mo is not the shot blocker Howard or Noah were in their prime, he’s a solid post defender who plays good position defense and would be an excellent fit alongside an elite help side shot blocker like Anthony Davis.
Mo Speight’s defensive metrics hold their own against Howard and Noah. B-Ball Index’s report card gives Speights a B+ grade for interior defense, which is slightly lower than Dwight Howard’s A- grade but several notches higher than Joakim Noah’s C- grade. His NBA DEFRTG for 2017–18 was a respectable 103.4, which was significantly better than Howard’s dismal 113.6 for 2018–19 and almost as good as Noah’s 101.7 for 2018–19.
But it’s on the offensive end of the court where Marreese Speights with his ability to shoot from deep and create space clearly becomes the far superior fit to play alongside Lakers’ superstars LeBron James and Anthony Davis. Mo is the only center of the three who’s a proven stretch five with the gravity as a shooter to prevent his defender from collapsing into the paint and taking away space or doubling LeBron James or Anthony Davis.
Over his last two NBA seasons, Speights made 189 out of 510 three-point shots for a respectable 37.0% shooting percentage. Over their last two seasons, Howard made just 1 of 7 threes and Noah just 0 of 1 threes. Playing Howard or Noah at the five alongside James and Davis just doesn’t work. Neither has the shooting gravity to space the floor and neither is a better pick-and-roll or post up option than LeBron James or Anthony Davis.
Marreese Speight is not the potential superstar play as a healthy DeMarcus Cousins but he’s the best candidate the Lakers are going to find at this point to give them the interior defense and floor stretching shooting they need.
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