It was just a little over a year and half ago that Jodie Meeks was buried on the Philadelphia 76ers‘ bench as the team made a deep run in the 2012 playoffs. At that time, one wondered if Meeks’ career was headed on a downward spiral as his minutes per game dropped from 24.9 to 7.8 from regular season to postseason.
Fortunately, the Los Angeles Lakers came calling that summer and offered him a modest two-year deal worth $3 million.
Meeks accepted the deal with no guarantee of playing time as the purple and gold were already settled at the guard spot with Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash and Steve Blake. The new season started and Meeks found himself behind Antawn Jamison, Devin Ebanks and even Darius Morris under micro-manager Mike Brown. As we all know, Brown didn’t last long.
If there was one player that benefited the most from the hiring of Mike D’Antoni it was the fifth-year guard from Kentucky as his style of play fits D’Antoni’s uptempo system. Still, Meeks struggled for most of last season as he shot only 39 percent from the floor and under 36 percent from three.
Last season D’Antoni told the L.A. Times: “Jodie’s Jodie. He’s going to play as hard as he can play and sometimes it’s a train wreck and sometimes it’s really good. I think it’s going to be more good than bad.”
Meeks never stopped working or trying to improve his game last summer and is known to be the first guy in the gym every day. Lately there has been no Bryant, Nash or Blake which has given Meeks more responsibility. The work with the help of added minutes has paid off as he has put up career-high numbers across the board.
He looked to be aiming the ball last year while now the shot looks fluid and decisive.
It should be noted Meeks has consistently been at or near the top of the SportVU leaders in Speed and Distance all season long. This is a general indicator of how hard one is playing in a game. It is pretty easy to see which Laker plays with consistent energy every night regardless of circumstance, and the SportVU cameras just validate that.
The timing couldn’t be any better for Meeks as he is an unrestricted free agent this summer and should receive an increase in salary. Ultimately, I feel the team is not going to have the flexibility to re-sign him as there are higher priorities at point guard, power forward and center.