It was a tale of two seasons for Marreese Speights, otherwise known as Mo Buckets. After starting out cold with inconsistent minutes, Speights eventually earned the green light to shoot threes while showing the league why Stephen Curry gave Mo the title of "biggest two-guard in the league."
Speights got out of the gate slowly this season, falling out of the regular rotation and occasionally not playing at all. During a five game stretch in January, for example, Speights logged fewer than 12 minutes in total along with three DNPs. Speights had made just 35% of his field goal attempts from October through December and appeared to have lost the great shooting touch we had come to know and love.
However, when Festus Ezeli went down with a knee injury toward the end of January, Mo came through in spades as he filled in as the primary backup center. He nailed over 48% of his shots after Ezeli's injury, including about 40% shooting on three-pointers from that point on in the regular season.
Speights reestablished himself as a legitimate scoring threat from long range to the delight of the Bay Area crowd and likely gathered some interest from other teams in search of free agents this offseason.
While Speights can certainly score from outside, he struggled to finish shots through contact close to the rim. Granted, Mo is generally outsized at the center position. That said, if he could learn to initiate and handle contact better it would be a big boost to his game, particularly because he's a great free throw shooter.
I don't know if I make this comparison because they both have interesting growths on their heads, but I wonder if Speights could learn to be more physical like Chris Gatling was back in the day. Seek out the contact and finish with the foul!
On the other end of the floor, Speights has proven to be a master of drawing charges. According to hoopsmanifesto.com, Speights was third in the league in drawing charges during the 2014-15 season while averaging just 16 minutes per game.
Mo contributes well as a help defender in that way, but as a primary defender he has room to grow. By bending those knees and moving his feet more nimbly, he can improve his ability to stay in front of opponents driving to the hoop. He'll likely never be a big shot blocker, so attention to the fundamentals on defense should be an area of focus.
Speights said publicly that he'd prefer to stay with Golden State, but acknowledged the complications in making that work. I'm guessing that the Warriors would love to have Mo Buckets back for the 2016-17 campaign. He's a great teammate with a fun spirit and a never ending source of inspirational quotes on Instagram. And then there was the baby bottle emoji...
But Speights played well enough to catch the eye of many a GM and it's likely that Mo will be headed elsewhere, particularly if the Dubs max out Kevin Durant or Al Horford. The Warriors drafted a center and have signed additional centers to their summer league roster, so Golden State could be preparing for a scenario in which they'll lose their backup centers.
In order to stay in the Bay, Mo would likely be leaving a hefty chunk of change on the table. He seems like the kind of guy who'd sign at a discount, but the discount in this case might be too large for anyone other than David West to consider.
What do you think, Dub Nation? Will Speights be a Warrior next year?