Damn you Jodie Meeks.
You caught my eye again Tuesday night. Just 13 points, nothing like some of your games this season, but you were steady again. Three of five from deep, your third straight game in double figures. We’ll be seeing you again soon, Milwaukee heads to Philadelphia on Friday, but it didn’t have to be like this.
It was one year and two days ago. Michael Redd had re-torn his ACL in the first game of a six game road trip out West. You subbed in and played well. 12 points, five rebounds and a three. The court at the Staples Center that had claimed Redd’s knee was going to be your launching pad.
Two games later in Portland, Milwaukee was blown out, but you showed up again. You scored 21 points, hit three of seven threes and for the first time all season had scored in double figures in two of three games. With Redd gone and Milwaukee floundering, the sky was the limit it seemed. If you could just keep it together on defense and knock down threes for a week’s worth of games or so, you’d be the next Bucks second-round steal.
But by the end of the week you were out of the rotation. A month later, you were out of the city.
Milwaukee wasn’t confident in your defense, you weren’t confident in your shot, Jerry Stackhouse offered the team more in the short term and a couple second round picks, Primoz Brezec and Royal Ivey gave the Bucks all of the insurance for the rest of the season and beyond they needed. Off to Philly you went. We didn’t know if you’d find your shot there, but most of us assumed you would have a better chance of locating it there, with regular playing time, than you would here.
And while it took a while, your minutes in Philly eventually became pretty regular, and with regular minutes, came the regular sight of you hitting those 3-point shots. The last month of the season last year you hit 15-30 threes.
This season, you’ve picked up where you left off. While your former team struggles to make shots outside the arc, inside the arc, in the paint or anywhere else, you’re hitting 40% of your threes and occasionally blowing up. Maybe you don’t do much else, 56% of your made field goals have been from long range and your assist and rebound rates have fallen off a cliff, but you’ll find there is always a place in the league for a shooter. Not that I think you can’t do more. I remember how athletic you were. Last season, Coach Scott Skiles often noted in the first half of the season that you may have been the most athletic wing Milwaukee had. Even though your competitors were Charlie Bell, Carlos Delfino and Michael Redd, that still meant something.
Regardless, I can’t help but wish you were still here. Milwaukee’s offensive struggles have been well documented, so you know you could be helping the Bucks right now. Your 59% true shooting percentage would blow away all of Milwaukee’s regular guards and wings. I liked Ivey and Brezec as much as the next guy, but I’m a little bummed that, so far, all Milwaukee has to show for you was 32 combined games from them. Perhaps the future second-round picks will pan out, but on a veteran laden Milwaukee squad, everyone saw how tough it was for any of Milwaukee’s three picks this season to crack the roster.
If only you had hit some of these threes last season, maybe things would have worked out differently. Maybe you wouldn’t have been given up on so quickly, maybe your defensive issues would have been put up with. But you didn’t and they weren’t. And now, quietly, subtly, you’re making Milwaukee pay.
Jeremy Schmidt writes the Milwaukee Bucks blog Bucksketball.com. Follow him on Twitter. Then become a fan on Facebook (in the sidebar).