Does Speights Matter?

Another season and another first round draft pick for the Florida Gators. Marreese Speights is nearly a lock for the first round in Thursday’s NBA Draft. NBA scouts look beyond his relative lack of fitness and see the .624 field goal percentage and averages of 14.5 points and 8.1 boards a game. Put him in an NBA system, where he can be tutored by Shaq (in Phoenix, pick 15) or by Dwight Howard (Magic, 22), and he can become a force. He was playing 24 minutes a night in college. If he gets 10-15 a night in the NBA, he will easily make a team’s rotation.

 

But does his decision to go pro really matter? Was there ever a point this season where you said, “Wow, Speights is dominating here.” If there was, let me know. Because for better or worse, the offensive options for UF were;

 

1a. Calathes outside

1b. Calathes inside

3. Who ever has the ball with five on the shot clock whenever Calathes is sitting

 

Calathes is the most dynamic player the Gators have. In the absence of players matching his caliber or willing to support him, the team fails. If Florida had done this, maybe they would have flamed out in the NCAAs and not the NIT.

 

Speights’ exit means the reinforcements coming in (Allan Chaney, Kenny Kadji, Eloy Vargas) will have to play more as freshman, which is what everyone wants anyway. I’m not trying to downplay the output of Speights, but being the most efficient player on the floor will not get you the ball when you’re only out there half the time. He is truly heading for greener pastures. Now it’s up to Calathes to take the reins and realize that there are four other dudes on the floor. Some of them may actually be able to shoot too.

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