Jodie Meeks' decision to stay in the NBA draft is probably the best thing for him, but it is definitely not the best thing for the Kentucky Wildcats next year. This puts UK in a real pickle when it comes to outside shooting. Let's take a look at the leading 3-point shooters from last year:
|Name||3pt Field Goals|
|3pt Field Goals Made||3pt Field Goals Attempted||3pt Field Goal Percentage||% of 3 point shots made||Remaining|
Now, just let that chart roll around in your mind for a few minutes.
If that doesn't cause you a moment of panic, I don't know what will. UK is losing 78% of the team's three-point scoring from last year, and bringing in only one player, Darnell Dodson, who is somewhat known for his shooting. Jon Hood is also a decent 3-point shooter, but he is much more like Michael Porter in that respect than Jodie Meeks. What does that say to every coach in college basketball? That's right, boys and girls -- we are going to get a lot of practice playing against zone defenses next year, or seriously sagging man-to-man from teams that eschew the zone. Why would you not force a team with a profile like next year's Wildcats to put up the three ball rather than pass it in to huge post studs or allow a lightning-quick Wall or Bledsoe to get to the rack by playing man-to-man?
So Calipari is now faced with an interesting challenge, and probably one that he does not relish. The Dribble Drive Motion Offense depends on good three-point shooting to function well. Without it, man-to-man defenses will be sagging into the middle like crazy, and zones will be as passive as they want to be. Heck, the perimeter players might even be touching fingertips with each other daring UK to shoot.
This really changes things, folks. Anyone who understands basketball knows that, too. With Meeks on the perimeter, other teams had real problems -- he could spread the floor by acting as a decoy, opening up driving lanes and making it hard on everybody, even if he never put up a shot that wasn't unopposed. Now, every 3-point shot is going to be largely unopposed, because that's what opponents will want UK to take, not slash to the rim for a layup or a dish to Patterson, Orton or Cousins.
The old Chinese curse comes back to the fore. We are living in interesting times, unless Dodson is better than I think he is, or Hood suddenly develops into Rex Chapman.