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2016 Clippers Player Preview: Mo Speights Knows Your Secrets, Dubs. And Now He’s Ours.

Clipper Nation, prepare to fall in love with a longtime villain...

The Basics

Name: Marreese Akeem Speights

Height: Listed at 6’10.

But when women ask him how tall he is, he now answers, “Unlike some people, Mo Speights doesn’t need to exaggerate his height to impress you. You’re already impressed.”

Weight: 255 lbs.

Position: PF-C. Also, based purely on his looks, Darryl Sutter has offered him a fourth-line enforcer role for the Kings.

Experience: 8 seasons.

Age: 29.

Contract: 2 years at the vet minimum ($1.4 million), with second year as a player option.

The Numbers

11.6 7.1 (22.2 per 36) 3.3 (10.3 per 36) 43% 39% 17.2

What Your Clipper Conscience Says

Before we get to whether Mo will be the backup stretch big Doc has been searching for since 1993, let’s address the elephant in the room: you probably don’t like Mo Speights.

And that’s with good reason. While the successes, failures and general antagonism of the Chris-Blake era has made us hate a lot of teams (I can’t even tell you why I hate the Suns now, but I do), only two franchises really stir the kind of white-hot enmity we used to reserve exclusively for that SUV with Laker flags that cut us off on the 405.

The Dubs and the Grizzlies rank 1 and 2 on our “F*&* those teams” list (OKC used to be on there, but the summer changed things. And the Lakers are a different deal). While Golden State and Memphis are very different franchises and have earned the scorn of Clipper fans for very different reasons, they do have one common denominator.

Clipper Nation first encountered Mo when he shot 1000% against us in the first Clippers-Grizzlies playoff series in 2012.

When on the Dubs he talked shit on Chris, and the overblown and vaguely insulting reaction of Warriors fans when he hit a jumper was one of those things about Oracle that just annoyed the hell out of you the past two seasons.

I get it. You have reason to be upset. Hell, I even ranked him fifth on my list of Clipper villains two years ago.

But here’s why you need to let Mo into your heart.

  1. Mo Is Here For One Reason and One Reason Only—To Destroy The Dubs:

Unlike Lance Stephenson or the American electorate, Mo had plenty of decent options this summer. He could have gotten more money from another team in search of a backup big that could space the floor and didn’t really care about interior defense. He could have signed with the Lakers and started at pretty much any position he wanted. He could have easily played McDreamy’s character in that Bridget Jones sequel.

But he chose to come to the Clippers to battle for playing time with Brandon Bass. Why?

Because he must despise the Warriors with the fire of a thousand suns. Look at it from Mo’s perspective. He was the fourth-leading scorer on the 2014-2015 championship team. He was a viable contributor for the 2015-2016 team that won 73 games, whose bench was fearsome, whose team motto “Strength in Numbers” celebrated depth over stardom, whose fans adored him.

Then Draymond punches Lebron in the nuts because he can’t help punching players in the nuts, and a month later Bob Meyers calls and says, “Hey Mo. We’re firing all of you so we can sign Durant. Peace.”

Mo deliberately came to the one place in the NBA where his resentment towards the Warriors would be shared by every one else on the roster, the one place that he knew would really piss off his former teammates and employers. Unlike past Clipper villains that have ended up playing for us (read: Jordan Farmar), he’s here for the right reasons.

2. It will genuinely hurt Warriors fans to see Mo in a Clipper uniform:

You know that weird pang of nostalgia and regret you feel when you see Shaun Livingston playing against us? Or Eric Bledsoe? Or Reggie Evans or Chris Kaman or even Swaggy P?

That’s what Dubs fans will feel every time Mo sinks a mid-range jumper against them. Except it’s worse because Mo is playing for their arch nemesis, and likely joined them out of spite.

3. He will always be part of one of my favorite Clipper moments in recent memory

The Thing On His Head

If you watch Clipper games with a significant other, prepare yourself for the following exchange.

“Eww. What’s that thing on his head?”

“I don’t know. It’s been there forever.”

“Why doesn’t he get it removed?”

“Maybe it’s like a Anthony Davis-unibrow type thing. It’s distinctive, good for his brand.”

“I doubt that.”

For true NBA nerds, the thing on Mo Speights’ head has been the subject of near constant speculation and rumor, much like Durant’s free agency or why Tony Brothers is still allowed to referee. I’m sure nearly every Clipper household has a name for it at this point. In ours its “mini-Speights”, but there’s likely more original ones out there (if you have a good one, leave it in the comment section below. “Steph” is not acceptable).

As fans, we don’t want Mo to get self-conscious about this. Mostly because we don’t want the Clipper training staff to attempt to remove it, as there’s like a 50% chance they’d take off his entire head.

So, even if he plays poorly, let’s not heap on “mini-Speights” as a convenient source of ridicule. I’m sure it’s a sensitive topic. Let’s celebrate it. Who’s down for “Skin Tag Night” at Staples?”

Breakdown and Outlook for This Season

Taylor wrote a great “Film Room” overview of what Mo could bring to the Clippers offensively, as well as his defensive limitations. I highly suggest reading it as it answers pretty much every question you might have.

One intriguing subplot may be how Doc decides to dole out playing time between Speights and Brandon Bass, another Clippers free agent pickup where Doc seemed to get pretty good value. Although Mo has a little more range, both Speights and Bass seem to have remarkably similar games—both are pick and pop big men, both have reliable jumpers that they probably have too much faith in, and both struggle to protect the rim and rebound in traffic. Speights’ rim protection numbers last year were a little better than Bass’ (opponents shot 55% on Mo within 6 feet, while they shot 65% on Bass), but that of course may be misleading because the Warriors were generally a great defensive team and the Lakers were coached by Byron Scott.

For those reasons, Doc may opt to keep DJ on the floor with the second unit more this season, pairing Speights with him. Clipper fans are going to start mourning Cole Aldrich the minute Mo gets beat on the defensive glass, which will happen. But we can’t really fault Speights for that—that’s not his game.

A good year for Mo would include a solid shooting percentage from midrange and deep, the ability to provide some scoring punch when Jamal isn’t playing well (cue the groans in the comments section), and learning the team’s defensive system well enough to not be a huge liability when he’s on the court.

And finally, for no reason other than I made my boy Connor make it for me, here’s Mo as part of the R&B supergroup TGT. Connor, as always, you are the mini-Speights to my Speights.