Monday, December 31, 2007

Marreese Speights - NBA Draft Preview

Numbers: 14.5 ppg, 8.1 rpg, 1.4 bpg, 24 mpg, 62% FG, 69% FT

About Him: Marreese Speights is a late developing prospect. He was not highly recruited coming out of high school, and spent last year playing behind top 10 picks Al Horford and Joakim Noah. But in the limited minutes Speights had last season, he really impressed and built on that this year. Speights has some impressive physical tools. He is 6'10", 240lb, but very mobile and light on his feet - he gets off his feet quickly and can get up and down the floor pretty well. His strength allows him to seal defenders under the basket, where he tries to dunk hard when he gets it that close. He also has a very nice touch around the rim. He can use a jump hook with either hand and has a nice little turn around jumper that he uses when he spins off defenders. His jump shot looks to be developing nicely - he shot 69% from the foul line and Billy Donovan allowed him to shoot out to about 15 feet. His long arms and great timing allow him to be a very good rebounder and defender. Fundamentally, however, Speights has a way to go. He still doesn't react to defenders in the post - he has a tendency to make his move regardless of where the defender is, almost as if he decides on the move he is going to make before he gets the ball. That will develop with playing time however (as I said, Speights was a late-bloomer). He also needs to develop his handle, which will allow him to use his superior quickness and athleticism against bigger, slower defenders. The biggest knock on Speights right now is that he doesn't always give 100% effort. He sometimes seems to just cruise up and down the court, not hustling for rebounds, playing lazy defense, and not establishing position in the post. If he had the motor of Joakim Noah, he would probably be a top 10 pick.

Comparisons: Al Jefferson (stretch), Brandon Bass

Bottom Line: If Speights continues to develop his offensive game, he could be a reliable low-post presence in the NBA, but he will need to greatly improve on defense in order to become a starter or someone that plays a lot of minutes. Most people have in projected at the end of the lottery to the low 20's.

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