From Kate Fagan’s Deep Sixer blog today:
- “On Friday night, Iguodala drove the left baseline and, somehow, noticed that Meeks was drifting along the three-point line way out on the right wing. Pretty sure no one in the arena saw Meeks except Iguodala. Meeks made the three. Moral of the story? Iguodala loves playing with Meeks. Think back on the last few years: to whom would Iguodala kick the ball out after driving? Usually, to someone who would either miss the shot or not even find the open space to begin with. Meeks is the first solid perimeter option who can also defend, rebound a little bit, and create his shot in transition.”
For a minute, let’s look back to the beginning of the season, at the roster for the first game of the season. Our starting 5:
And our bench: Williams, Young, Turner, Nocioni, Speights, Songaila, Battie.
Yeah, there was no Jodie Meeks. He was inactive along with Craig Brackins. While Brackins remains glued to the inactive list with an almost healthy roster, Meeks has become a key member of the Sixers rotation. How has this happened? Well, some of it had to do with just getting an opportunity with injuries. Andre was injured and Doug gave Jodie the nod off the bench. He hasn’t looked back since, with several major performances: the 20-point first quarter against Charlotte, the off-the-bench outburst against the Heat, and his 24-point game in the revenge-win against Chicago the most notable.
Meeks’ overall numbers aren’t all that memorable: he averages under 10 pts per game in only around 25 minutes. And he’s not great at much other than 3-point shooting: he gets just 1.7 REB (he really does rebound a little bit), 1.0 AST, and 0.6 STL. In other words, Jodie has to shoot well to have any production on the stat sheet.
His success from distance this year, however, has opened the floor for everyone else to do their things. The proof is not in standard numbers, but here’s something to back me up. The best two Sixers lineups have Jodie in them according to both raw and adjusted plus/minus. Heck, the lineup of Brand-Young-Iguodala-Meeks-Holiday was third in the NBA among ALL lineups when NBA.com Stat Guy John Schuhmann called it “the lineup of doom” (the lineup currently sits seventh, according to BasketballValue.com).
In essence, Jodie may be just as valuable for his potential contribution (and the effects that would have on the opponent’s defense) as he is for his actual contribution. And while his impact may not show up on your basic stat sheet, it certainly shows when watching the game. And I imagine Andre really does like to play alongside him, since it works pretty well.