A wise man named Dwayne Johnson once said this:
Know your role, and shut your mouth.
While the quote may have been unnecessary, some of it certainly applies to who I’m giving a present to tonight, Jodie Meeks. And no, I’m not asking him to shut up.
Jodie Meeks is scheduled to become a free agent after the season. The last years before free agency have interesting effects on players. For one, they usually try to prove they are healthy, especially if they have injury histories. Meeks shouldn’t have this issue – he’s been healthy overall throughout his two year NBA career, and he doesn’t seem to have an extensive injury history. So there’s one problem out the door. Another is that players tend to look out for themselves – while a guy like Washington’s Nick Young can do this easily and sabotage his team in the process, Meeks cannot sabotage the team by the nature of his play, except by hurting himself.
What does this mean? He needs to play defense and hit threes (and other assorted shots) in order to stay in the game. Otherwise, he gets taken out. What will he get paid for? Hitting those shots and being a passable defender.
In accounting, we call this phenomenon goal convergence – having two parties who have may have different incentives come together for the same ones. With a strict role player like Meeks, who needs the team to succeed as much as he does, his contract year should affect the team much less than a player of a greater stature, such as Dwight Howard in Orlando.
However, one thing that Meeks can aim to do for himself that may hurt the team is diversify his game. While watching the home preseason game, I noticed he drove with the ball more often than any time I have seen before, trying to make plays instead of finishing them. He can still hit his shots and defend, but he may also want to expand his game into other horizons. Let me be the first to say that this is not a good idea all around. Teams don’t want to see Meeks driving into the paint out of control and into a charge call. They want to see him consistently hit perimeter shots, up his three point percentage, and/or become a better individual defender. He’s not on the court to make things happen. As I mentioned yesterday, the Sixers have four players and not enough time to give everyone the ball.
Instead, Meeks needs to accept that he has limitations. He won’t ever be an NBA superstar, and I’m sure he knows this. But he can be paid rather handsomely if he puts up the shooting numbers he did last year. And he can help the team in the process by sticking with what he’s good at.