Warriors Players Know Speights Will Be Missed
LOS ANGELES – Harrison Barnes started to crack a smile at a Team USA practice in Las Vegas once he heard Marreese Speights’ name come up.
Barnes and Speights served as two of Golden State’s complementary pieces on a Warriors team that won a title two years ago and set a record for wins last year before signing with the Mavericks and Clippers, respectively, this summer.
“Love Mo,” Barnes said. “He was right next to my locker every day at Golden State. He’s a great guy. I love the energy that he brings to the game.”
Speights was never afraid to mix it up, but as Barnes will say, he was more than just a burst of energy off the bench.
“He’s a sneaky offensive rebounder, now a great 3-point shooter,” Barnes said.
The latter attribute took some convincing.
Speights took 281 shots between 16 feet and the 3-point line in 2014-15, hitting 42.7 percent of such shots. But he only took 18 3-pointers.
“You have to start shooting threes,” Barnes said his teammates would tell the big man. “He used to shoot that like 18(-footer), I’m like, ‘Mo, just take a step back.’”
The reliable mid-range shooter stepped back and took 62 3-pointers in the regular season last year, at least double the amount of any previous season, and hit 38.7 percent of them. His numbers behind the arc got even better in the postseason, as he went 18-for-43 from 3-point range.
Barnes said that consistent outside shot should be able to help the Clippers.
“He stretches the defense,” Barnes said. “There’s not a lot of fives used to guarding a guy like him on the perimeter who’s just going to knock down that shot. They’ll be very happy to have him.”
Klay Thompson, who described Speights as a great teammate who “never had a bad day at the office,” would agree.
“Mo genuinely loves the game of basketball,” Thompson said at Team USA training in Las Vegas. “I’m going to miss playing the pick-and-roll with him. He’s so easy to get an assist; just throw it to Mo. He’s got such a great jumper. There’s not many 6-11 guys who’ve got a shooting touch like he does who shoot it 40 percent from deep.”
The Warriors departed with a handful of valuable assets to bring in their prized possession in Kevin Durant this offseason, and while there may be other more high-profile players getting pricier deals elsewhere, Thompson knows he’s going to miss Speights for a variety of reasons.
“He’s true to his roots,” Thompson said. “He’s never going to change who he is, and that’s what makes him so special. I’m going to miss his personality, and I’m going to miss being out there on the court (with him). He’s such a great player. The Clippers got a good one.”