I have to admit, the theory behind this post wound up being something very different from what I'm writing right now. The idea came from some stats TK76 tossed around in the comments over the past couple day about how hot Jodie Meeks has been of late. I was planning to write about how streaky Meeks is, and how the team's slim chances of winning a round in the playoffs could be dramatically altered depending on whether he's on a hot streak or a cold streak. Once I looked at the numbers, though, that idea flew right out the window.
When Doug Collins first inserted Jodie into the starting lineup, he was on an unbelievable hot streak. Over his first four starts, he really couldn't miss. Check out these stats:
After those four magical starts, Meeks went ice cold. Over the next 12 he couldn't hit the broad side of a barn. The only bright spot about this stretch was that Meeks started to contribute a little bit in areas other than shooting. Not a whole lot, but a little. He also started getting to the line.
Here's where my research went off the rails. You see, I thought Jodie would go on another hot streak, then a cold streak, then hot again. The problem is, I looked and I looked, but I couldn't find another cold streak. Over the past 34 games, Meeks has had a handful of stinkers thrown in there, but no more than a couple in a row. He's been extremely consistent, and the bow on top is that his production in non-shooting areas has improved as well. Check out the numbers since the cold streak we examined above:
I'm sure you can see the problem with my original logic at this point. Meeks hasn't been a streaky shooter. He's been an unbelievably consistent shooter who had one bad stretch. Consider this, for a second, Meeks has started 50 games. He's hit at least one three in 42 of those games. He's hit at least 2 threes in 32 of those games. He's hit a total of 100 threes, or 99 more than Jason Kapono, the guy who Doug Collins thought would be stretching the floor for this team when the season began.
Meeks has become a perfect compliment to Jrue and Iguodala. He's not going to grab a whole lot of rebounds, he's not going to set his teammates up with any kind of regularity, and he doesn't need to. He's really only got two roles within the offense. Knock down open threes created by the playmakers, and represent enough of a threat to force teams to account for him. That's all they need and that's exactly what he's given them with shocking regularity.
The added bonus to Jodie's game is on the defensive end. It's tough to quantify how good of a defender he is, because he's got Iguodala on one side and Jrue on the other for most of his minutes, but one thing is clear, he's not a detriment on that side of the ball. He works as hard as anyone, he seems to have the mental portion of the defense down (he's rarely out of position) and he's forcing more and more turnovers.
When you look at Meeks, it's easy to say "This guy isn't a starter," and on most teams, he isn't. He's a shooter off the bench. But on this particular team, with their peculiar pieces, he really is a starter. He fits almost perfectly between Jrue and Iguodala, or Jrue and Turner, or Iguodala and Turner. The Sixers have a plethora of playmakers who can rebound and defend. Their strength is the extra work those guys do in the areas Jodie is somewhat weak in. What they lack is the shooting, which is of course where Jodie comes in. It's a symbiotic relationship. There are two reasons why it works so well. Collins has completely defined Jodie's role, and Jodie not only understands how to fill it, he embraces it, as do the other guys. If you still have questions about how effective he's been, consider this. Only Ray Allen, Aaron Afflalo and Landry Fields have a higher TS% as shooting guards this season.
What does this mean for the long term? I'll be damned if I know. Thinking beyond this season isn't nearly a priority for me right now. All I know is that the Sixers are better with Jodie on the floor in between two playmakers, Collins saw that before anyone else, and the team is so much better for it. I'm truly happy to say I couldn't have been more wrong about the guy last summer.