Blessed Are The Meeks, For They Shall Inherit… Detroit?

One of the surprise fantasy stars of last season had to be Jodie Meeks, then of the Los Angeles Lakers. It was a perfect storm for the fifth-year pro, thrust into the starting lineup with the injuries to Kobe Bryant as well as playing in an uptempo Mike D’Antoni offense, which would’ve been able to make a fantasy star out of me.

Jodie MeeksThere is almost no way Meeks was drafted in any 10 or 12 team leagues, yet when the dust settled, he was the 42nd ranked player in nine category leagues. 42! Top 50! It’s almost unbelievable. Have a look below at the numbers he was able to put up.

Jodie Meeks 33 15.7 2.1 2.5 1.8 1.4 0.1 11.6 46.3 3.4 85.7 42

Meeks hit career highs in scoring, three-pointers, rebounds, assists and steals and also increased his field goal percentage by a whopping 7.6 percent over 2012-13. And therein lies the problem. Was it all a mirage? Will his shooting regress down to the low 40s that he had been putting upĀ in his first four seasons? Only time will tell, but I think it’s unrealistic to think he’ll shoot over 45 percent again.

Good on Meeks for parlaying his breakout season into a 3 year, $19 million contract in Detroit. The Pistons were calling out for outside shooting and that’s the man area Meeks excels. With Rodney Stuckey a free agent and unlikely to return, Meeks should slide in to the starting shooting guard slot, but in order to project how he will fare next season, there’s a couple of scenarios we need to take into consideration.

If Greg Monroe returns, we can expect a starting lineup of

PG – Brandon Jennings
SG – Jodie Meeks/Kyle Singler
SF – Josh Smith
PF – Greg Monroe
C – Andre Drummond

Singler had a career year last season when he entered the starting lineup and new coach Stan Van Gundy may be inclined to split the minutes between Singler and Meeks at the two. But, in what is looking like a more realistic scenario every day, Monroe could leave as a restricted free agent, completely changing the look of the starting five.

PG – Jennings
SG – Meeks
SF – Singler
PF – Smith
C – Drummond

Smith moves to his more natural power forward position and it allows Van Gundy to play Meeks and Singler together, with both guys able to hit outside shots. There’s also Kentavious Caldwell-Pope to consider. The number eight pick last season had a decent rookie season, but his offensive game was lagging well behind his elite defense. If Monroe leaves, KCP will be the primary backup behind Meeks and Jonas Jerebko and Luigi Datome backing up Singler. If Monroe is retained, the minutes at the two become awfully muddled.

The factor to consider is how Van Gundy will coach this team. In his Orlando career, the pace his teams played at varied a lot. During his first year in Orlando, the Magic played at the ninth fastest pace — in his last, at the 29th. Which of these is the more accurate representation of Van Gundy’s style of play. I think common sense tells us it will fall somewhere in the middle.

As Meeks’ role is dependent on the Monroe outcome, I put forward a couple of scenarios for his projected stats. The first, assumes Monroe is burning rubber out of the Motor City.

Jodie Meeks 31 13.6 1.8 2.2 1.5 1.2 0.1 10.1 43.8 2.9 87.2

This second, assumes that Monroe and Smith stay, and Meeks, Singler and KCP are splitting minutes.

Jodie Meeks 26 11.4 1.5 1.8 1.3 1.0 0.0 8.4 43.8 2.4 87.2

In the first case, Meeks projects to be a 11th round pick, around pick 100. So, he will be drafted in every league and be a valuable guy. But in the second example, his value drops substantially, so much so that I wouldn’t pick him in the top 150.

As with all fantasy players, so much is dependent on opportunity and playing time and Jodie Meeks’ current situation, while an upgrade for the Pistons, could be a big downgrade for his fantasy value. Whatever happens with the rest of Detroit’s roster, don’t be drafting Meeks based on last year’s breakout.

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