Meeks seeks to emerge from forgotten man status
Granted, the 2012-13 season was pretty crummy for every Los Angeles Lakers player, but consider the plight of Jodie Meeks.
After two and a half solid seasons in Philadelphia, where Meeks established himself as a valued contributor on playoff teams, the sweet-shooting guard signed with L.A. at a discount with the hopes of winning a ring.
While he witnessed his teammates go down left and right with injuries as the season wore on, Meeks fortunately avoided any health problems. With Kobe Bryant out with a torn Achilles tendon, it was Meeks who was on the court at shooting guard in Bryant's place in the regular-season finale against the Houston Rockets, driving baseline and throwing down a game-sealing dunk in overtime to secure L.A. the seventh seed in the postseason.
But whoever was holding the purple and gold Voodoo doll spared Meeks only for so long. He suffered a third-degree sprain in his left ankle in the Lakers' opening playoff loss to the San Antonio Spurs, ending his season three games sooner than his team did after the Lakers' decimated roster was swept by the Spurs.
"It was really bad timing," Meeks told ESPNLosAngeles.com in a phone interview from his offseason home in Atlanta on Monday. "I was very frustrated just because, selfishly, I was like, ‘Man, I can get as many shots as I want now and I can’t even play.’
"I felt like it was a good opportunity for me to kind of showcase what I could do on a more productive level because the guys were hurt."
As this upcoming season approaches, all Meeks wants is that opportunity again.
Nick Young, a talented wing player who is a natural shooting guard but could be relied on to play more small forward with Metta World Peace now in New York. They also brought in Jordan Farmar, who can play both guard spots. And of course there are still the Steves -- Nash and Blake -- who will command minutes in the backcourt.
Even though D'Antoni has vowed to play an 11-man rotation next season, Meeks knows that it's not realistic to think all six guards will get consistent playing time.
"I try not to worry about stuff I can’t control," Meeks said. "I have a year under my belt with Coach D’Antoni’s system so that kind of puts me ahead of the curve to start the season, but at the end of the day, you have to be productive when you get out there. My main focus is just doing that. Doing what I can when I’m out there, being productive and trying to win games. I think when that stuff happens I won’t have anything to worry about."
Meeks' productivity was unpredictable last season. He scored in double digits in 26 of the 78 games he played -- most memorably scoring 12 of his 19 points in the fourth quarter of an epic comeback in New Orleans and torching Denver for 21 points on 7-for-8 shooting from downtown -- but he also had 22 games with one made field goal or fewer. That is to say far too often he was a shooter who was not making shots.
Meeks, who turns 26 this week, said none other than Magic Johnson encouraged him to stay confident in his shot and play his game, something that has fueled him this summer.
While he is still undergoing rehab on his left ankle ("I tore a couple ligaments," Meeks said of the severity of the injury), he was cleared to resume full-contact drills a month and a half ago and should be fully healthy as he enters a contract year.
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Wow... didn't know he was still rehabing his ankle. That injury must have been worse than we all thought. Least he's been able to go full contact a month and a half ago.
Sadly I think he will be the "forgotten" one once Kobe returns. The only way I don't see it happening if we remain healthy which I want above all else is if we don't sign another forward
Cause then our lineup would be
But if we do then I don't see how Meeks gets minutes if we remain healthy which I hope we do!
But if D'antoni stays true to his word of running an 11 man rotation there will probably be nights where Meeks gets more play time than others, same goes for Farmar etc.