051_Clippers_GD1.p1

2016 Los Angeles Clippers Gameday 1

THE VETS ARE HERE NEWCOMERS BRING EXPERIENCE All it took was a mention of Marreese Speights’ name for Harrison Barnes to crack a smile at a Team USA practice in Las Vegas. 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.” The Clippers hope they’ll be the benefactor of that energy throughout the 2016-17 season after adding Speights and a handful of veterans to the mix this offseason. Apart from rookies Brice Johnson and Diamond Stone, the Clippers revamped their bench by going with mostly proven commodities. In Raymond Felton and Brandon Bass, both drafted the same year as Chris Paul, and Alan Anderson, who went undrafted that same year, they get three players whose NBA careers started in 2005. And in Speights, they add a veteran with nine years of experience who was never afraid to mix it up off Golden State’s bench on the way to winning a title. But, as Barnes will say, Speights 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.’” Mo did. 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.” After just a few days of training camp, that’s something they realized quickly. “I didn’t know Mo could shoot like that,” said Austin Rivers. “I mean, I knew Mo could shoot…but man, he’s shooting it.” THE DRAW When Speights looked for a destination this summer, it helped seeing the effect Cole Aldrich made off the bench. He felt he could provide the same type of impact, despite the differences in their game. Speights said he talked to Clippers head coach Doc Rivers “a lot” throughout the free agency process, and Rivers used Aldrich as an example of a center who helped himself out by coming to Los Angeles. “Doc was a big key of this process,” Speights said. “I’m going to have an opportunity to come here and play and be consistent every night.” “Consistent,” after all, might’ve been the word most used to describe Aldrich’s play last year. Whatever role the Clippers needed from Aldrich, the backup center proved more than capable of filling it. That even meant the occasional start, which he always seemed to take advantage of, averaging 15.8 points and 11 rebounds in his five starts. He make an immediate difference once joining the rotation in late December, and by season’s end, Aldrich averaged a career-high 14.8 points per 36 minutes. From a distance, Speights was watching. “You look at that,” Speights said, “especially a situation like my situation, not knowing if I’m going to play every night. But when I do play, I see other teams, like, ‘Man, this guy’s doing all this and all that, I could be in that position.’” Speights described himself as a big basketball fan, so he looks at players at his position across the NBA. He’s particularly familiar with the Clippers’ roster, having played for rival teams in recent years in Golden State and Memphis. But, as strange as it may be, Speights said he looks forward to starting this chapter in his career. He’ll likely be in for an uptick in playing time after averaging 7.1 points 51 | CLIPPERS GAMETIME MAGAZINE BY ROWAN KAVNER Alan Anderson


2016 Los Angeles Clippers Gameday 1
To see the actual publication please follow the link above