Name: Marreese Speights
Key Stats: 8.7/4.5/0.8 (points/ rebounds/ assists) on 44.5/37/88 shooting in 15.7 minutes per game; played all 82 games.
Years in the NBA: 8
2016-2017 Salary: $1,403,611 — minimum contract
Future Contract Status: Player option for one more season with the Clippers, making about the same amount as this last season. Unrestricted free agent in 2018.
Summary: When the Clippers signed Mo Speights, we thought that we might have finally picked up the perfect third big man to back up Griffin and Jordan. Unfortunately, with Blake’s injuries, Speights never got to truly settle into that role. This forced our expectations of Speights — in terms of rebounding, scoring, etc. — to go up. But even given this heightened responsibility, it is hard to say Mo wasn’t a big plus for the Clippers. He was always available (playing all eighty-two games) and shot well from the “three” and the free throw line. And, considering that he was on a minimum contract, he outplayed his contract in ways players like Wesley Johnson did not. Finally, he seemed to fit in well with the team — adding an extra bit of energy with every drawn charge.
Strengths: As mentioned previously, having Speights available each game was key for a Clippers team that always seems to find themselves short-handed. He was also able to make up for his less than mobile frame by getting in position to draw charges on the defensive end. But his most important contribution throughout the season was his shooting, especially from behind the arc. Whenever you have a big man that shoots 37% from three, it makes your offense more dynamic.
Weaknesses: The biggest problem with Speights was that he seemed to fade as the season went on. His best months, in terms of productivity, were from December to February. Now, it could be true that his production simply went down once Blake was able to get healthy; however, when we look at his shooting percentages (from three and from the free throw line), we see a decline as well.
Future with the Clippers: Mo Speights has a player option for roughly $1.5 million for next year. Almost 30, the smart move for Speights would be to opt out of his deal and seek some long-term security— a last sizable contract before journeyman status. If he opts out, he almost certainly won’t be on the Clippers next year. Other teams can pay him a lot more than the Clips can, and he might find a bigger role on other teams as well. If Speights does leave, Clips fans will miss his three-pointers, his charges, and overall energy.