Everything You Need to Know About Warriors' Addition of Marreese Speights

Simon Cherin-Gordon@SimoncgoContributor IIISeptember 19, 2013

It is seemingly impossible for sportswriters and Golden State Warriors fans to separate Marreese Speights from Carl Landry.

After Landry—last season's backup power forward—opted out of the final year of his contract and signed a four-year, $26 million deal with the Sacramento Kings, Golden State quickly filled the hole by signing Speights to a three-year, $11 million contract.

The comparisons do not end there, of course. Both Landry and Speights are strong rebounders and gifted offensive players who leave something to be desired on the other end.

Both players have been starters but are largely known as high-end reserves, and Speights is expected by many to replace Landry's energy, production and overall value.

Truth be told, this is a superficial assessment.

The fact is that each player's offensive skill set, rebounding ability, defensive strengths and weaknesses differ greatly.

Landry is a force in the low post. He's a career 53.6 percent shooter from the field, which is largely due to a 70.9 conversion rate at and around the rim. His uncanny ability to use his body and his pump fake in order to draw contact and finish earned him 38 three-point plays last season, which was also helped by his 81.7 percent free-throw efficiency.

Speights shoots 47.2 percent from the field and 58.9 percent near the bucket for his career. He averages nearly as many points per minute (17.0 to 17.4) as Landry, but he gets the bulk of those points in the mid-range areas.

While his 48.4 percent shooting from 16-23 feet last season is impressive (and obliterates Landry's 38.0 percent clip), a shooter does far less than a post scorer does for a team that already features Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Harrison Barnes and David Lee.

Speights does do some things better than Landry. Mid-range shooting is one, but his superior rebounding rate is likely to prove more vital to Golden State's success.

Per-36 minutes, Speights grabs nearly two more rebounds than Landry for their careers (9.6 to 7.8). This number is slightly marginalized by the fact that Landry grabs more rebounds overall (5.3 RPG for Landry to 4.4 for Speights), and his greater minute demands (24.5 MPG to 16.4) certainly lead to more fatigue and thus a worse rebounding rate.

Still, even if an extremely poor rebounding power forward—say, Luke Babbitt (6.8 rebounds per-36 min)—combined with Speights to cover Landry's minutes, the two would grab more rebounds than Landry alone.

Neither Landry nor Speights is renowned defensively, but their specific skill sets waiver significantly.

Landry is undersized (6'9") and gets abused by big men down low. His lack of height and wingspan combined with a poor vertical make him useless as a rim protector (0.5 BPG) and shot changer.

Speights, meanwhile, has an extra inch of height and multiple inches of wingspan on Landry, as well as greater leaping ability. This allows him to get to 0.6 shots per game (half a block more than Landry over 36 minutes).

Speights still has less strength and seemingly less interest in defending than Landry does. Besides his shot-blocking ability, he's an even greater defensive liability.

While Landry was widely seen as a role player for Golden State, he played sixth-man minutes and was an essential offensive cog. His numbers and minute totals back that up.

Speights will truly be a role player for Golden State.

He's significantly inferior to (or at least less valuable than) Landry on both ends of the court, but provides two specialized talents: mid-range shooting and rebounding.

Considering that the Warriors are far deeper than last season, Speights' relatively narrow skill set is not a problem. He'll play fewer minutes than Landry, and the minutes he does play will be minutes that demand floor spacing and rebounding.

Since Speights has been a sub-20 MPG player his whole career, this specialist role should not cause any unrest.

We've just gotten two things out of the way: We've debunked the Speights/Landry similarity myth while simultaneously giving a basic scouting report on Speights.

General manager Bob Myers and Co. didn't just bring in Speights for these tangible qualities, though.

The 25-year-old big man is best known around the league for his nasty edge, something that the 2012-13 Warriors lacked.

Let's face it, a PG-rated locker room may make Mark Jackson content while Kent Bazemore's sideline shenanigans might excite those who are watching on TV, but no team has ever won a championship through such "wholesome" means.

Whether it's provoking opponents, jawing at opposing fans or giving a hard, old-school foul to a guard trying to slice through the lane, Speights plays a nasty brand of basketball.

This leads to the one reason—beyond the superficial, first-glance logic—that Speights should fill a similar role to Landry for Golden State: His personality is likely to become infectious amongst his teammates.

The 2012-13 Warriors were a loose, joking bunch off the court—much due to Landry. The power forward's on-court antics (such as his patented "strong man" every time he went to the line with a chance for a three-point play) also pulsated throughout the team, as most Warriors players began to show a lighthearted cockiness by season's end.

You may be asking why Speights' mean streak is similar to Landry's goofiness, and moreover why the Warriors would benefit from an apparent move from a loose environment to an angry one.

To answer the first question, the two qualities are similar in that the team is almost guaranteed to embrace them.

There are other "not-so-nice" veterans coming to Oakland this summer, such as Andre Iguodala, Toney Douglas and Jermaine O'Neal (along with a healthy Andrew Bogut). All of these guys are looking for their first NBA title—long-range threes, loud crowds and exceeding soft expectations will not be satisfactory.

This team will want to win, whatever the cost, and has no intention of finishing with the rest of the nice guys.

The Warriors are built to become bullies, and Speights was largely brought in to lead that transformation.

As for why this is desirable, suffice it to say that three-pointers and stretch fours don't scare the San Antonio Spurs, Memphis Grizzlies and Indiana Pacers of the league.

There's a fear factor that must be attached to a team that is to go deep into the playoffs. It's a fear of that team's basketball talent first and foremost, but it's also a fear of said team's physicality, nastiness and near-sadistic desire to brutalize their opponents every trip down the court for every minute of every game.

I don't know about you, but I'd much rather watch a team rip its opponent's heart out than engage in a post-game prayer.


Stats and contract figures courtesy of Hoopdata.com and Basketball-Reference.com


Follow me on Twitter @Simoncgo


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