In signing Jodie Meeks to a two-year deal in free agency, the Wizards may have solved their problem at the backup shooting guard position behind Bradley Beal with a guy known for scoring in bunches and shooting consistently from three-point range. But in order for that scenario to play out, Meeks will need to overcome some tough injury luck that has plagued him in recent years.
Over the past three seasons, Meeks has appeared in an average of 33 games due to foot, back and thumb injuries. Two seasons ago, in 2015-16, Meeks played in just three games for the Detroit Pistons. Last year he managed only 36 appearances for the Orlando Magic.
Meeks' injury saga began in the 2014-15 season when he suffered a stress reaction in his lower back in October. He would return to play in 60 games, but the next October he broke his right foot and required surgery. He battled back to play in the team's season finale, but had to have surgery again on the same foot in July of 2016.
Meeks came back from the second surgery in December of 2016, only to dislocate his right thumb less than a month later, an injury that required surgery.
"It was disappointing," Meeks said. "It was like 'man, what else can go wrong?'"
Meeks returned in March for the Magic and finished the season and he insists those injuries are a thing of the past.
"I would say I'm 100 percent now. Thank the good Lord that I'm past that. It's summer time, so my body feels great," Meeks said. "I came back from my thumb at the end of the season. I played okay and finished out the season healthy. This summer I got some rest. Now I'm working out again and I feel fine."
The last time Meeks was healthy for a full season was 2013-14 when he was with the L.A. Lakers. Not surprisingly, that was also the best season of his career. Meeks averaged a career-high 15.7 points and shot a solid 46.3 percent from the field. His 2.5 rebounds and 1.8 steals per game, plus his 55.4 effective field goal percentage were all career-highs.
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Meeks hopes to regain that form in Washington.
"The past couple of years have been tough with being injured. Coming off my career year in L.A. a couple of years ago, it felt like my career was going up with a lot of success for me. But the injury bug kind of hit me," he said. "It's been a little disappointing. But I try to make the most of my opportunities and not dwell on the past and dwell in disappointment. Just try to make the most of it. When I have my opportunity, just try to play well."
With the Lakers, Meeks had an opportunity paved by Kobe Bryant suffering an Achilles injury. He still holds on to that year as evidence he can play at a high level in the NBA.
"It was unfortunate for Kobe Bryant, but it was fortunate for me to expand my game and play a lot of minutes. When he got hurt, I was able to show what I can do. I just attribute that to hard work. I feel like given the playing time and opportunity, I showed that I can do it and can play in this league for a long time," he said.
Meeks averaged 9.1 points and shot 40.9 percent from three last season in Orlando. If he can maintain those numbers over a full season, the Wizards should be in good shape with Beal already established as their starter. But if he can get back to anything close to what he was with the Lakers, Meeks could prove to be a very nice pickup.
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