When the Lakers acquired Jodie Meeks as a free agent in 2012, they were bringing in player with a deadly outside shooting touch that was supposed feast on open jumpers with all the space that the big man twosome of Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol were sure to create down low. We all know now that it didn’t quite work out that way with Dwight slow to recover from his back surgery and Pau so completely lost in the offense that there were actually times that he joined Meeks behind the 3 point line instead of manning the post.
Meeks 2012-13 Key Statistics:
Points per game: 7.9
3 pointers made: 122 (3rd on team)
3 point Percentage: 35.7 %
Free Throw Percentage: 89.6 % (2nd on team)
Field Goal Percentage: 38.7 %
Last season, Meeks was merely adequate in his role and incredibly inconsistent. Meeks would light it up from the outside on one night, showcasing his perfect form and quick release, like he did in late November of last year against the Denver Nuggets where he shot a scorching hot 7 for 8 from behind the arc, totaling 21 points in a Lakers win. He’d then disappear in the next 3 games shooting a combined 6 for 22 from the field, good for an ice cold 27 percent. Meeks took the Lakers on that same scoring roller coaster ride all season.
In the end with the Lakers desperate for perimeter players that could suit up following the Kobe season ending injury, Meeks couldn’t answer the call having fallen victim to an injury as well in the 1st game of the first round series against the San Antonio Spurs.
Meeks played well enough to earn him another season with the Lakers who picked up his option. Meeks will be playing this season under a 1 year contract barely above the minimum for a player with Meeks’ NBA experience.
Unlike last season, Meeks will have fierce competition for the role of back up shooting guard and 3 point specialist off the bench this coming season. Nick Young and Kobe Bryant – when he returns – will take the 2 perimeter starting positions, after that there is a surplus of perimeter players that will vie for playing time, such as Marcus Landry, Wesley Johnson, preseason stand out Xavier Henry and even point guard Steve Blake will get a shot as the back up 2 guard.
So far this preseason, Meeks hasn’t distinguished himself from the subpar performer he showed last season as his numbers have been eerily similar. In the first 4 games, Meeks is averaging 9 points, shooting 37 percent from the field and 35 percent from 3 point land in 26 minutes. On the positive side, Meeks is leading the team with 6 3-pointers made this preseason and had a great showing against Sacramento, scoring 19 points. Still, Meeks inconsistency remains as the 19 point game followed 3 straight poor shooting games.
Meeks has an edge with his 5 years of NBA experience and more importantly, 1 season playing under D’Antoni . That experience might gain him some equity and land him spot in the rotation to start the season even if he doesn’t significantly improve his play this preseason. The coaching staff might just have more trust in opening the season with Meeks in the rotation because of the level of comfort of knowing what Meeks brings in a real NBA game; that is something the staff does not have with the young guards.
Meeks won’t be asked to do anything different than what he was asked to do last season which is to come in and just knock down open shots from the outside consistently. Meeks isn’t a playmaker, lock down defender or a guy that gets to the basket, but a specialty player where his skill is a deadly outside shot. The coaching staff understands Meeks limitations as a player but find his particular skill as being valuable to this team and the anticipated offensive system that they will run.
Having said that, the trust and comfort won’t last long and if Meeks goes on one of his infamous cold streaks, like the one he started on this preseason and showed many times last season, he’ll quickly find himself out of the rotation and because of the Lakers depth at the guard position, he might find it difficult to get back in.
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