What the Jodie Meeks injury means for the team.
Jodie Meeks is hurt, with a jones stress fracture. The same thing that Kevin Durant had last year, and is likely out until March. (I'm not going to bother linking all of my sauces. It's been all over the place.) So lets look at what this means for the team. To go almost all the rest of the regular season without Meeks.
To start off, rather simply, it absolutely hurts the team. And there are a lot of reasons for that, however the two biggest reasons have to do with depth. First is that, even when his shooting is down, (like most of last season) Meeks is a useful NBA player. So even if Reggie Bullock steps up and plays really well. It always hurts the team to lose a useful NBA player. The other depth problem is that any sort of injury to KCP means serious trouble. KCP going out would have been big blow anyways. But if it was for a week or so (essentially just a few games) Meeks is a real NBA player who could have filled in as starter and the team could have survived just fine. Now if KCP goes out for a few games, the SG rotation is Bullock and Hillilard. And while there is a small amount of excitement to see two young guys get a chance, don't let it cause you to forget, it is never a good thing to have 2 guys who have never had a real NBA role suddenly playing serious minutes on a team trying to win games. In this theoretical situation Johnson probably gets some of the minutes at SG to lessen the blow, however he is out of position there (I don't care if he says that he likes playing SG, he is absolutely a forward until he shows he is a legit outside shooter.) and it would make the forward rotation very thin. Either way, KCP is now the only SG on the team who has any real experience/track record of being a competent NBA shooting guard. Theoretically Blake could also play some SG, but I think his shot is broken and he has lost a step on defense. So I doubt SVG would do that.
So what is it exactly that that Jodie does that Bullock can't?
1.For sure be an NBA player: Remember that whole thing where in the preseason where we could not figure out why 2 straight teams gave up on Bullock? We might find out real quick. (not saying it will happen, but it could)
Be a veteran defender: Jodie is not a good defender, he sometimes looks like he is not even trying to stay in front of guys. But he is heady, and generally in the right place. Essentially, even if he is not that good on defense, he is smart enough and been around long enough that he does not have a lot of mental lapses of straight up idiocy that submarines the D. This is a big one because even though Bullock is entering his 3rd year, he has never been a regular in a rotation. So he still is lacking in experience. So even if he proves a capable defender, he will almost certainly have moments of fuck ups. (the thing that stuck out to me in these first 2 games is that he struggled to deal with screens. Like not even that he got killed on them all the time, tho he did get killed by them, sometimes it seemed like he did not know exactly what to do about them.)
Run and pop shooting: Even last year when he was slumping, Jodie was still capable of sprinting around a screen, catching the ball, and shooting. There are not a lot of guys in the NBA who are good at that, and almost all of them are shooting specialists. Even if Bullock plays really well, he will almost certainly not be good at this. Because those are really hard shots and they take a ton of time to get good at.
Ball Handler: Jodie has some ability with the ball in his hands. He is not a great finisher, but he has a way of creating lots of fouls. And he is such a good free throw shooter that it is a real weapon. And until Jennings comes back, the bench needs to get creative with ways to scape out points. Jodie with his goofy drives was one way. Even in his awesome preseason, Bullock showed no signs of this. The other part of this is that Meeks is capable as a secondary ball handler. With him out the point guards on the team are the only ball handlers on the team. (Stanley and KCP have surprised a little bit here but neither should be taking serious time as lead ball handler yet I don't think) This will also make it harder to get Dinwiddie time. Playing Dinwiddie alongside Meeks helped too curb Dinwiddie's main weakness of not always being able to create for himself or others. Because Meeks could create/handle the ball for a few possessions. Staying on this, until Jennings comes back, Meeks is (probably, because Johnson might be better, we'll see) the best scorer the team has off the bench. It was already going to be a struggle to find points from the bench, now it is going to be even harder.
How will the team fair without him?
Pray that KCP does not get hurt. Pray really hard, and pray a lot. #oneupvoteoneprayer.
I think Bullock is at least a semi-competent NBA player. Even though he will not be as good as he was in the preseason. He showed some real NBA usefulness. As long as he does not bomb, his play should lessen the blow of losing Meeks.
The team might try and find another shooting guard. If Bullock plays well this will not happen. But if he does not play well or if KCP does get hurt, there might be some move made. Just pray that SVG does not trade a future asset for a rental shooting guard. (although he has pretty well earned my trust here, if he picks up a guy it will be a decent deal.) A Anthony Tolliver type move would be the best case scenario.
Provided the team is still in the playoff picture come March, Meeks could still return to make a impact for the team. And I think the team will at least have an outside shot at a playoff spot. (I think they will be firmly in the playoffs actually) So there is no need to rush him back. Even though the picture at SG is bleak beyond KCP, between Bullock, Hilliard, and maybe a little Johnson they can stitch together survival in the backup SG minutes. And FWIW KCP is still young and is capable of playing a lot of minutes if he has too.
The moral of the story is that the team has some depth and a smart coach. Whatever ends up being the answer at backup SG will probably not be as good as Meeks, however they should be ok. The real problem now is that one more injury could mean real trouble.
What do you think? Who is someone we could pick up if things go south? Will Bullock be good? Does the thought of Hilliard give you excitement or fear? Think I'm stupid? Let me know! We all get smarter