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Bye Bye Speezy: Marreese Speights Traded to Grizzlies in Three-Teamer

Jan 4, 2012, 4:57 PM EDT

Mo Speezy has been freed. Our farewell to Marreese Speights who was traded to Memphis for two draft picks.
Mo.Speights.jpg

You know, in Marreese Speights’ first season as a Sixer in ’08-’09, he
had a Player Efficiency Rating of 18.0—third-highest on the team of
anyone who played 1000 minutes, behind team cornerstones and Co-Andres
Miller and Iguodala. This is not to suggest that the Sixers made a
mistake by trading Speights today to the Memphis Grizzlies in part of a
three-team deal that netted the Sixers a couple second-round draft
picks—quite the contrary, in fact—but rather, just to remind everyone
that while Marreese is now a superfluous player on a .500-ish team, that
doesn’t mean he wasn’t without his moments, especially in that rookie
year.

Indeed, during that rookie season, Mo Speezy seemed like he might
have been a real steal for the Liberty Ballers with the 16th pick of the
2008 draft. He really started coming on in late December of ’08,
scoring in the double digits in six straight games off the bench, and in
12 of 15 games in a one-month span. The high point of Marreese’s rookie
year came in a 2009 game against Phoenix, where in the proud tradition
of Sixers bench players carving up the Suns, he shot 11-16 for a
season-high 24 points, outpacing even the Suns’ scoring dynamo Amar’e
Stoudemire. A fine finisher around the basket and a deadly shooter from
the wing, and still raw at the age of 21, watching Speights was one of
the highlights of an up-and-down ’09 season for the Sixers, and looked
like he would be a key part of the Sixers’ offense for years to come.

But Speezy was also a cautionary tale of the perils of reading too
much into PER. While a versatile, efficient scorer, Marreese was also
indifferent to just about every other aspect of the game. He was an
untalented, unmotivated passer (his career high in assists in a Sixers
uniform remains an astounding “two,” achieved just five times), and he
was fundamentally flawed on the defensive end—one of the reasons he
could never play big minutes for the Sixers, even in ’08-’09 after Elton
Brand went down and we had to start Reggie Evans, was because he could
never stay on the court long enough without getting into foul trouble.
More disturbingly, he never seemed to show much interest in improving,
instead moaning about his playing time as the league caught up to his
offensive tendencies and his numbers began to dip each year.

In the four games the Sixers have played this year, Marreese
Speights has not played a single minute, his role in the rotation taken
by new backup center Nikola Vucevic, demonstrating what on-court value
the team believed the once-so-promising Speights to now have. In that
sense, we should be glad that de facto GM Rod Thorn was able to get a
couple second-round picks for him—you can never have too many draft
picks, and you never know when one of those can be used in a potential
future deal to help get the Sixers a much more valuable player. Still,
when you look back at that rookie year—or, further back, to some of the
players drafted after Speights in that loaded ’08 draft
(including starter-caliber big men that the Sixers could really use,
like the Pacers’ Roy Hibbert, the Wizards’ JaVale McGee and the
Thunder’s Serge Ibaka)—it’s hard not to feel a little bit bummed that
this is how it all ended with Speezy.

Farewell, Marreese. We’ll miss your 16-footers, your growl-after-dunks, your all-too-toothy smile, and most of all, your thoroughly unintelligible Twitter account. Best of luck in Memphis, and say hi to Dante Cunningham for us.