New Cavalier F/C Marreese Speights made quite a splash in his debut on Friday night against Milwaukee. In the incredible comeback victory, the 25-year-old Florida Gator provided 10 points on 4-for-7 shooting with 6 rebounds and 2 steals in 18 minutes. He played the entirety of the fourth quarter and also had some big defensive plays.
To many, it was a huge surprise of what Speights could provide to a Cleveland squad desperate for front-court help in the wake of Anderson Varejao’s season-ending injuries. But in actuality, Speights has shown an odd propensity for succeeding when getting starter-level minutes. Let’s go to the stats.
Since 2008-09 with Memphis and Philadelphia: 305 career games
Memphis games with 23+ minutes: 28 out of 100
Philadelphia games with 23+ minutes: 33 out of 205
So you can see, he hadn’t consistently received those minutes. A bit more often, obviously, in Memphis where he picked up 54 starts in 60 games last season. But at times with both teams, he would waver in and out of the starting lineup, then struggle to receive any playing time at all for weeks on end.
Career stats per-36 minutes: 16.6 points, 9.6 rebounds and 47.4% shooting
Per-36 minutes in 61 games with 23+ minutes: 18.1 points, 10.0 rebounds and 53.8% shooting
Per-36 minutes in 244 games with 0-22 minutes: 15.8 points, 9.4 rebounds and 44.1% shooting
Rebounding rates don’t change much, but wow the shooting rates — +9.7% better when getting 23+ minutes. This peculiar trend of improved shooting percentage when playing 23+ minutes appeared both in his Memphis (+11.8% increase) and Philadelphia (+9.7% increase) days. Such an odd jump can clearly skew perceptions of his overall play.
Speights got off to a great start with the Cavaliers, but actually just barely missed this peculiar 23-minute threshold of the first 4.5 seasons of his career. But after getting his feet wet, there’s no reason why his minutes — and opportunities — won’t continue to increase, and he could follow this strangely productive career pattern.
[Related: Speights and Company to see time as early as Friday]