One of the new additions to the Washington Wizards for the upcoming season is Jodie Meeks. He signed a 2-year, $7 million deal this off-season, with a player option for the second season. He is 30-years-old and is entering his 9th NBA season.
Who is Jodie Meeks?
Meeks is a 6 foot 4 inches shooting guard out of the University of Kentucky. He was picked 41st overall by the Milwaukee Bucks in the 2009 draft. He was traded part way through his rookie year to the Philadelphia 76ers, and played minimally for either team in his rookie season. In his second season, he broke into the rotation and was a contributor for the Sixers the next two years. After that, he spent two years with the Los Angeles Lakers. He was similarly used and was quite successful. After LA, he signed with the Detroit Pistons, where he struggled a bit to stay on the floor through injuries, especially in the second year. He was traded to the Orlando Magic last off-season (allegedly by request) and struggled to stay healthy there as well.
Jodie Meeks can freaking shoot the basketball. His career mark of 37.6% from downtown doesn’t stand out as some incredible number, but it comes on a really high volume and a lot of them are difficult shots. He is not a guy who is shooting 37% by just standing in the corner and waiting for an open shot created by others. Meeks always does the Kyle Korver thing by running like a maniac all around the floor. He has that great ability to receive a pass, stop on a dime, and get a shot off, all in one motion. He isn’t quite on the same level as say, J.J. Redick, but he is like a slightly worse version of that kind of player in a lot of ways.
Just You Wait
But wait, there’s more! Meeks breaks away from the shooter mold by actually being a pretty good ball handler. He shouldn’t be counted on to run the offense with much regularity. Meeks is a very solid second or third ball handler to have on the floor. He also has a pretty good knack for drawing fouls when he gets inside the paint. Also, he is a great free throw shooter with a career mark of 88.1%. Essentially, he is really a perfect bench player for almost any team.
When playing with bench mobs he can take some ball handling duties and do some creation for himself, but can also slot into a lineup with more starters and work exclusively off the ball to create space and finish plays made by others. It also should be noted that he has absolutely no fear of big moments and is happy to take big shots if it is put upon him to do so. This is important when playing with a guy like John Wall who often will create looks for others in crunch time rather than just try and score himself.
Defensively, Meeks plays hard consistently and keeps his head on a swivel. He doesn’t always have much desire to do the dirty work, and he doesn’t possess the sort of tools to be a real plus defensively. Mostly, he probably grades out as an overall positive on the defensive end, but don’t expect much from him.
He has been consistently hurt the last three years, playing in 60, 3, and 36 games respectively. If he had proven he could stay healthy, he would’ve almost certainly commanded more money on the market, and his health will likely determine how good a deal this ends up being for the Wizards. The Wizards have a couple other guys off the bench who should be fairly capable guards in Donald Sloan and Sheldon Mac. The thought of your best two shooting guards being as injury prone as Bradley Beal and Meeks isn’t a great feeling. Beal managed to stay mostly healthy last season. I doubt anyone is ready to declare him a workhorse yet.
As far as his actual game goes, there isn’t a lot to complain about given the role he should be figuring to fill. If he is healthy, he can be a really valuable bench piece most of the year and can fill in competently if Beal has some injury issues come back up.
Best case scenario:
Meeks stays healthy all year, combines with (hopefully) improved backup point guard play and Ian Mahinmi being healthy to give the Wizards a fairly capable bench. When Beal inevitably misses a few games, he fills in just fine as a starter. He shoots close to 40% from three and even better than that when he shares the floor with Wall. He likely opts out of the second season here to get a bigger deal. I think that is a downside the Wizards would take for a good season from Meeks.
Worst Case Scenario:
Meeks is hurt most of the year, and Beal has injury issues again causing the Wizards to have some miserable play at the 2-guard spot for most of the year. He opts in for the second year of the contract and has the same issue in year two, proving that he is, for whatever reason, totally incapable of staying on the floor. Even though his contract is small enough that it isn’t a huge problem, his place on the team is basically a joke by the end of year two.
I mean, it really depends on if he can stay healthy to some degree. I do think that when he is able to play he should be really good for the Wizards, and will likely play himself into a pretty large role. This can allow Scott Brooks to stagger the minutes of Wall and Beal a bit more with such a reliable shooting guard off the bench. But once again, if he is hurt all the time, he isn’t helping anything.
What do you think? Can he stay healthy? If he is healthy how will he fit?
For all your collegiate and professional apparel needs, check out 365 Gameday.