Undrafted free agent Kennedy Meeks seems the prototype for NBA players being phased out of the game – lumbering, over-sized power forward, undersized centre (6’9, 277 pounds) without a reliable three point shot (he didn’t make a single three at North Carolina).
I imagine Masai Ujiri was intrigued by the post game and touch around the rim (shot 56% in his senior year at UNC), and his Herculean effort on the glass in the Final Four and National Championship Game, where he grabbed a combined 12 offensive rebounds. I’d like to figure out what the Raptors saw in a seemingly massive project.
On Tuesday the 905 welcomed thousands of screaming children into the ACC for an 11am tip against the Rio Grande Valley Vipers. The crowd’s deafening shrieks did not seem to energize Meeks, who had trouble guarding on the perimeter, a place he didn’t spend much time in college.
Here Meeks drops well into the key, but his man, spotting up from behind the arc, is a capable three point shooter.
Here Meeks again starts the possession in the paint, and doesn’t close out with enough control to stay in front of his man:
On this sequence Meeks doesn’t do a bad job in terms of positioning on this pick and roll, but he fails to spread his arms to affect the pass, leading to an open three:
Offensively, Meeks went a solid 4-for-9, including a nice face-up jumper, and a strong drive from the elbow.
Another hoop came on this play: Meeks implements the old Moses Malone technique – sneak in from under the basket to get prime put-back position:
Coach Stackhouse has shown a propensity for posting up his big guys, even Bruno when he’s forced to play the five. Aside from the fact that the classic post-up big man is all but extinct in the NBA, if the Raptors see Meeks as a potential post-up option, he’s going to have to refine that part of his game.
Here Meeks catches a bit too far from the hoop than he’d like, then fails to pass out after being cut off on his drive:
On this play Meeks has the chair pulled from underneath him, leading to a travel:
And here Meeks turns down an open short jumper he’s more than capable of making, goes into a difficult post move, and has his shot blocked:
Meeks won’t be using his athleticism to beat guys down low, but his craftiness, and the aforementioned soft touch. So we’ll monitor his post-ups for the next stretch of the season to see if there’s some improvement.
Also, as always, I’m mindful of the one-game-closely-watching sample. Meeks does average 12.3 points and was selected to join Team USA for the FIBA World Cup Qualifier mid-season, so clearly the man has game. We’ll see how it develops.