Marreese Speights

How Warriors' Omari Spellman's shooting touch was improved by haircut

How Warriors' Omari Spellman's shooting touch was improved by haircut

SALT LAKE CITY -- Throughout his young tenure for the Warriors, Omari Spellman has been scouring the Bay Area for the perfect haircut. 

In the last four months, his mission has failed, as his travels through San Francisco and the East Bay have disappointed, forcing him to abstain from cuts altogether in protest. 

"I was out here living foul," he admitted Friday evening.

The trend changed during a recent trip to Memphis when he reached out to Grizzlies forward Jaren Jackson, who put him in touch with a barber in the area to cut his hair on Monday evening. Since the chop, Spellman is shooting nearly 60 percent from 3-point range, giving the big man a newfound faith.  

"I got a haircut and I got more confident," Spellman said. "So I've just been letting them go." 

The latest example of Spellman's assurance came in Friday's loss to the Jazz. Seven minutes into the first quarter, he dunked over seven-footer Rudy Gobert. Six minutes later, he faced up against Jazz forward Joe Ingles on the right-wing and splashed a contested mid-range jumper.

With Golden down 21 points a minute into the fourth quarter, he hit a 3-pointer in transition, spearheading a 37-23 quarter from the Warriors, in which they cut the lead to single digits in the final minute. By the end of the night, he had accumulated 18 points on 7-of-9 shooting in 28 minutes. 

Friday's outing capped a road trip in which Spellman averaged 10.5 points, shooting 48 percent from the field, including 56.3 percent from beyond the arc. 

The shooting touch isn't new. In his lone collegiate season at Villanova, he led the Wildcats in 3-point shooting, shooting 43.3 percent from deep. However, he has struggled this season from the field, making just 38 percent of his shots through 15 games. While Spellman credits his crisper edge up for his recent good fortune, the reality is his shooting mechanics have been adjusted.

After being acquired in a trade last summer, Warriors coach Steve Kerr observed that while the nimble big man had a nice touch, his shot was flat, causing frequent misses.    

"He wasn't giving the shot a chance," Kerr said.

The conundrum forced Spellman to work on getting more lift on his jump shot, a routine that's starting to find its way onto the court. 

"I think the last two games something has clicked," Kerr added. "He's shooting it on the way up. It's a great sign because it gives us a dimension that we haven't had since Mo Speights." 

While Kerr's final sentence was a compliment to Spellman, it comes with a caveat. Four years ago, Speights became an integral piece to Golden State's championship run in 2015, shooting 48 percent from the field, becoming a spark off the bench, to the point the team -- featuring Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson -- would run plays for the big man.

By the time his tenure in Golden State was complete, he became a fan favorite, earning the nickname "Mo Buckets." Listed at 6-foot-8, 253 pounds, Spellman mirrors the body type and game of Speights, garnering comparisons to the former Warrior, much to his chagrin. 

"I've seen it, heard it, but I'm just trying to be myself," Spellman revealed to NBC Sports Bay Area. "Just trying to be O, I don't want to be Mo." 

"Mo is a great player. No disrespect to Mo Speights at all," he continued. "But if I can, I want to be better than Mo Speights. And I'm pretty sure he would tell me the same thing. I'm pretty sure he would tell me the same thing like 'bro, you don't want to be me. Your goal should be to be better than me.' So I don't want to be Mo Speights."  

As Spellman continues his career with the Warriors, there is one quality he'd like to share with Speights: Being a contributor on a winning team. At the moment, his team -- with half its roster injured, including Draymond Green, Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry -- have postponed those plans until at least next season, as they now stand with a 3-14 record.

Nonetheless, the Warriors clearly see Spellman as part of the future, picking up his team option last month. 

[RELATED: What we learned as Warriors nearly come back vs. Jazz]

For his part, the big man's trajectory should continue to ascend, as long as a barber is nearby. 

"I had to get a cut," he said. "Changed my whole confidence. My whole aura is different."

Stephen Curry's broken hand draws Twitter reaction from NBA players

Stephen Curry's broken hand draws Twitter reaction from NBA players

While the Warriors held their collective breath when Steph Curry broke his left hand Wednesday night, much of the NBA did the same.

Curry left during the third quarter of Golden State's 121-110 loss to the Phoenix Suns at Chase Center. Suns big man Aron Baynes fell awkwardly on Curry's left hand after the two-time MVP drove the lane, and Curry immediately grabbed his hand afterward. 

Los Angeles Clippers guard Patrick Beverley opened up his postgame press conference after LA's loss to the Utah Jazz by sending well-wishes to Curry, and he did the same on Twitter.

[RELATED: Source: Warriors pick up Spellman's team option for 2020-21 season]

Beverley wasn't the only one, as Curry's NBA peers and former teammates tweeted their hopes for the Warriors star to make a speedy recovery. 

Curry's recovery timeline is unknown. Warriors general manager Bob Myers told NBC Sports Bay Area's Kerith Burke that Curry next will undergo a CT scan on his left hand. 

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NBA rumors: Lakers to work out ex-Warrior Mo Speights, Dwight Howard

NBA rumors: Lakers to work out ex-Warrior Mo Speights, Dwight Howard

The NBA offseason really never sleeps.

Following DeMarcus Cousins' torn ACL, the Lakers now are in search of another big man as the new season approaches.

The Lakers currently have Anthony Davis and JaVale McGee on the roster, but Rob Pelinka, Frank Vogel and Co. reportedly will work out former Warrior Marreese Speights, Dwight Howard and Joakim Noah this week, ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported Tuesday. Marcin Gortat reportedly also is under consideration.

Not a lot of enticing options in that bunch.

Speights, who last played in the NBA in 2018, played for the Guangzhou Loong Lions in China last year. During the 2017-18 NBA season -- his last in the league -- Speights averaged 7.7 points per game on 36.9 percent shooting for the Orlando Magic.

Howard currently is under contract with the Grizzles, but they would be more than happy to buy him out should the Lakers be interested in a reunion. The 33-year-old played in just nine games last season for the Washington Wizards due to a gluteal injury. In his last healthy season, Howard averaged 16.6 points and 12.5 rebounds for the Charlotte Hornets during the 2017-18 campaign. 

Noah, a known LeBron James antagonist, had his moments last year for the Grizzlies, averaging 7.1 points in 42 games for Memphis.

Of course, none of these options will fill the void left by Cousins' devastating injury. All three are nothing more than end-of-the-bench role players and likely only would play a small role in the Lakers' quest to unseat the Warriors from atop the Western Conference.

[RELATED: Steph gets no love from NBA rookie class]

With their big depth now a question mark, Vogel and the Lakers might have to talk Davis into playing center (something he doesn't want to do) and have James play the four. This, coincidentally, likely is their best lineup construction, with Kyle Kuzma at the three, Danny Green at the two and (insert someone here) at point guard. 

It's unclear if Speights still has the bucket-getting ability he had during his run with the Warriors. If he does then he might be the Lakers' best option. During his three seasons in the Bay, Speights was a solid bench scorer who became a fan favorite. He averaged 10.4 points per game on 49.2 percent shooting while playing a vital role in helping the Dubs capture the 2015 NBA title, the first of their dynastic run.

And who could forget Mo Buckets dropping 32 points on the 76ers in 2014 and being serenaded with "MVP" chants from the Oracle Arena crowd? A true Warriors legend.

Of course, a reunion with a now "humbled" Howard would be great for the possible, albeit unlikely redemption story.