Of course, I’m talking about Jodie Meeks and the answer is no. You can’t blame him. You can’t blame Jodie Meeks for opting to leave his name in the NBA Draft pool. Here’s why you can’t blame him, and I’ve put it in list form for everybody’s convenience.
1. The 2009 NBA Draft sucks.
The talent pool in this draft is as weak a pool as I’ve seen since 2000, when Kenyon Martin went #1, Jamaal Magloire went late in the first round and I can’t remember where anybody else went. Hasheem Thabeet is going to go to either Memphis at #2 or Oklahoma City at #3. This is a universally accepted fact. Can you believe that? I’m not trying to defecate on the ability of Thabeet. He’s as dominant a defensive player as I’ve seen in college ball since Tim Duncan. But he’s horrific on offense. In most drafts, he’s a mid-to-late first round pick. In the 2009 draft, he’s a top 3 pick. That should give you an idea of how bad the 2009 draft will be, and don’t even get me started on Stephen Curry probably ending up at #8 to New York. The thought of this causes my brain cells to overheat and spontaneously combust, resulting in WHY DOES EVERYTHING TASTE LIKE BACON momentary periods of craziness. Sorry about that.
Also, the 2010 draft is slated to be particularly strong, especially with so many guys pulling their names out of the 2009 draft. Even if Meeks had decided to come back to Kentucky with the intent of improving his draft status, there’s a good chance that three of his teammates – DeMarcus Cousins, Patrick Patterson and John Wall – would be selected ahead of him. The 2010 NBA Draft will just have a lot more talent than the 2009 Draft, so I can understand if Meeks feels like there’s no better chance than now to make it, especially when he did so well in the combine. I don’t know what will happen because NBA personnel executives are as unpredictable as the weather in Kentucky. Stephen Curry tested out well. He benched more than super-athlete Gerald Henderson. And now he’s probably going to parlay that into a MONKEY MONKEY CHEW THE BUTTER contract with the New York Knicks. You know, they probably make a medication for my brain cells dying because of the inevitable draft pick, but it probably makes for a more entertaining column when I go crazy.
2. College basketball has been a cruel, cruel mistress to Jodie Meeks.
Look at it from his perspective. He gets recruited to play at Kentucky for Tubby Smith. He doesn’t get enough playing time his freshman year and the team sucks. Smith bolts for MinneFavreolis without telling anybody about it – not even Bobby Perry. So now Meeks is in limbo because he signed up to play for Smith. Billy Gillispie comes into the fold and Meeks suffers a stress fracture in between the first exhibition game and the first regular season game. This effectively ends his sophomore year, plus his team sucks. This isn’t his fault, but it’s just the way it is. The next year, Meeks has the best individual season at Kentucky since Jamal Mashburn in 1993…and it’s the worst Kentucky team since 1989. I know the 1990 team had a worse winning percentage, but they’d have beaten the crap out of this past year’s team. Again, not his fault, but that’s just how things work.
Also, it turns out that his coach buckled under the pressure of the Kentucky basketball coach’s responsibilities and allegedly lost his mind. I don’t know if it’s true or not, but once things started to go sour after the 54-point game, Gillispie may or may not have kicked Meeks off the team about a dozen times. It had to have made Meeks miserable. Now enter John Calipari and the #1 recruiting class in the history of all mankind. I’m sure Meeks would have loved to be a part of a great team and receive passes from John Wall and Eric Bledsoe instead of Mike Porter and Ramel Bradley (loved Ramel, but I always felt like he tried to decapitate people with passes). But when you think about it, this would have been his third coach in four years. How much can a man take? Everybody has to have a breaking point, and I think it happened with Meeks this season.
Plain and simple, Meeks deserved better treatment from college basketball than what he got.
3. Meeks’s stock would have gone down on the 2009-10 Kentucky Wildcats.
First things first, this roster probably has more talent than the combined talent of the three rosters Jodie Meeks played on this season. Not that his minutes wouldn’t go down significantly, but there are just more offensive threats on this year’s team. He wouldn’t have had to go for 40+ to ensure a win ever again. Sure, John Wall would have been the point guard and Meeks would have been on the receiving end of better passes, giving him the most open looks of his career. But you can say the same thing for Darius Miller, Patrick Patterson, DeMarcus Cousins, Daniel Orton, Jon Hood, Eric Bledsoe, Darnell Dodson and do I really need to keep going? That the list was that long clearly means that Meeks would have taken fewer shots in the offense. He wasn’t going to average 24 points a game for John Calipari.
Also, and this might be the most important part, the skills of emphasis in the dribble-drive motion offense are the biggest weaknesses of Jodie Meeks – ball handling and passing. Meeks struggled his entire career to dribble into the lane and make good things happen. He either barreled in like a bull in a china shop and charged or got stripped. It was as if his hands suddenly lost all strength once he got into some traffic. This is not to say Meeks wouldn’t have been able to adjust to the DDM offense and still thrive – far from it. But I can picture a game where Meeks plays poorly and turns it over a bunch while ESPN, Jerry Tipton and every Kentucky message board wonder what’s wrong with Jodie Meeks or wondering why Jodie Meeks only averages 17 points a game. Even if he were actually playing well, it might seem like underachieving because he wouldn’t be averaging 24 a game. And that doesn’t even take into account the possibility of injuries in his senior season. So, going back to the first now, there probably isn’t a better time for Meeks to leave than now, for his own good.
I think the team will get through the season just fine without him. They won’t be better – don’t misunderstand me. With Meeks, this team is preseason #1 in all the land and I don’t care what Kansas fans have to say about it. Without Meeks, Kansas is #1 and Kentucky is battling for a top five spot with Michigan State, North Carolina, Texas and Villanova. They’ll still be an outstanding team and John Wall is a once-in-a-generation talent. Make no mistake about it, the empire will strike back, and in a big way.
I harbor no ill will towards Jodie Meeks for this decision, and I hope that none of you who read this do as well. Don’t remember Jodie Meeks for declaring for the NBA after three years. Don’t remember Jodie Meeks for being on three bad teams. How much is he to blame for the lack of his teams’ success? Kevin Durant is one of the ten best players in the NBA and the Oklahoma City Sonics are terrible. Is that his fault?
I’ll remember Jodie Meeks for the good moments, as well should all of you.
I’ll remember him for his ability to jump the passing lane and use his ungodly north/south speed to break away for dunks.
I’ll remember him for making clutch free throws to beat Indiana as a freshman.
I’ll remember him hitting huge threes to avoid an embarrassing loss to Villanova in the NCAA tournament.
I’ll remember Meeks gutting out an epic performance on one leg in a loss against Houston when Patterson couldn’t go.
I’ll remember him setting the Freedom Hall scoring record. Of all the great players to play in Freedom Hall, nobody scored more points in a game than Jodie Meeks did. It doesn’t matter to me that it was against Appalachian State. That’s as impressive a record as you’ll see in college basketball.
I’ll remember him beating Arkansas by himself and setting the scoring record in Bud Walton Arena. It doesn’t matter to me that Arkansas had given up by that point in their season. Patterson was hurt and somebody had to answer the call.
I’ll remember the game winner against Florida. That was the best game winner I’ve ever seen in a Kentucky game, even better than Jeff Brassow’s tip, just because of the degree of difficulty and the karmic finish with Calathes missing the free throws.
Most of all, as a vehement Vol hater, I’ll remember 54. My dad was out of town that night and he didn’t think the game would get carried wherever he was staying, so he asked me to DVR it. Of course, Tennessee had just lost its record home win streak to Gonzaga and Memphis, so I feared for the worst because no matter how knuckleheaded Tennessee might play, they can’t lose three straight at home, can they? Then 54 happened. The best thing ever was when Bobby Maze had been trash talking Meeks all night long, Meeks goes to the FT line, scores his 50th point and you can see him mouth “fiddy” in the direction of Maze. This might be my favorite non-championship Wildcat moment ever. I’ve already put one of those “54 Witness” shirts on my Christmas list.
So I wish infinite success in professional basketball upon Jodie Meeks. I hope he gets drafted by a great team with a hole at shooting guard. I pray that he doesn’t get drafted by the Heat, Bulls, Nets, Pacers or Spurs, as all of those teams can go screw themselves, no matter how many Kentucky players are on their rosters. And once again, I hope all of you feel the same way about the situation.
Thanks for reading.