Meeks probably wise to stay in draft

Jodie Meeks would have benefitted from another year at Kentucky, without a doubt. He’d have honed his ball-handling ability. And his college-oriented style would’ve transformed into a more pro-style game, where you create your own offense instead of having it created for you.

But the bottom line is this. He can develop all those things in the NBA, too. And get paid while he’s doing it. Couple that with the risk of injury that every player faces and it’s hard to argue with his decision to remain in the NBA Draft.

Meeks was facing an adjustment in new UK coach John Calipari’s dribble-drive offense. I think it was an adjustment he could have made pretty well. But it wasn’t going to be easy. Watch some video of last season and see how much of Meeks’ offense was generated through cutting off of screens, or through the design of Billy Gillispie’s half-court patterns.

When Meeks had the ball himself, he was good at taking a lane to the hoop, but rarely showed that he could shake a defender off him and blow by, which is one of the first things you must be able to do in the dribble-drive. It’s not that Meeks lacked that ability, it’s just that he hadn’t fully developed it yet.

I don’t think there’s any question, Meeks can be a good pro, if he develops those skills.

The bigger question here now becomes, what does this mean for UK. I’m not going to propose that losing a seasoned player of Meeks’ quality is a good thing for the Wildcats. That’s crazy.

I am going to say that Meeks coming back would have created challenges along with the opportunities it presented.

First, Meeks was going to have to buy into a system where he scored fewer points than a year ago, while becoming the type of player who set up his teammates and made them better. This was Gillispie’s only criticism of Meeks last year. For all the attention he got from opposing defenses, you didn’t see him creating a whole lot of offense for others.

Second, players who come back sometimes seem preoccupied from game-to-game with what they’ve “shown the scouts.” Sometimes, they focus on that to the detriment of their overall team game. I don’t think that would be the case with Meeks, but the longer he agonized over the decision, the more I wondered what his mindset would be if he did return.

UK should have plenty of scoring weapons next season, though I don’t think it has another player with Meeks’ outside shooting ability. That perimeter shooting is the one part of Meeks’ game that the team will miss the most.

But if Meeks’ heart wasn’t 100 percent in coming back, and if his mindset has already turned toward the NBA, then the decision he made today to stay in the draft is the best one for everybody.


28 thoughts on “Meeks probably wise to stay in draft

  1. Eric I completely disagree with the whole injury thing. If Jodie gets hurt his first year in the NBA, is chances of sticking to a team deminish far more than if he were to get hurt during the season in college. No question Jodie would have gotten better and if Kentucky makes a huge run in the tourney or have a huge regular season, his stock is going to rise. You may call it wise, but he had a chance to be possible THE best four year player to come out of Kentucky. He would have been the face of this program. He is giving up a great chance at a national title and becoming a sure-fire legend in this program. And in the NBA, you play for your second and third contract and not your first. I am sure if he went into next years draft he would have easily made the first round.

  2. We disagree as to the estimation of Meeks' skills.He's a really good player."The best four-year player to come out of Kentucky." I don't think so.I think there's a good chance he wouldn't have been the best player on his own team next season.Don't forget Meeks' sophomore season, when he sat on the bench with a sports hernia for most of the year. Another injury that cost him significant time as a senior and he goes to the NBA as a sure second-rounder with the "injury prone" label.Meeks is a good player. But his gaudy scoring numbers on a bad Kentucky team last season, I think, has led to an overestimation of his overall ability.And that's coming from a guy who would have no qualms taking him in the first round of the NBA Draft.

  3. you wrote "But the bottom line is this. He can develop all those things in the NBA, too. And get paid while he's doing it."regardless of where he is drafted, if he is lucky enough to make an NBA roster he will be buried on the end of the bench. so how does he "develop" in that scenario? they barely practice in the NBA and spend most of that time working to make the starters better. I would think that being the 12th or 13th man on an NBA roster would be HORRIBLE for talent development.JMHO.

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