Jodie Meeks’ Breakout Season Proves He’s A Keeper For Los Angeles Lakers

With in-the-gym shooting range and an unwavering competitive spirit, Jodie Meeks has gone from being a placeholder for the Los Angeles Lakers to a pivotal piece of their rebuilding effort.

If the fifth-year guard isn't draped in purple and gold next season, it won't be because the Lakers have a found a better option—it will be because he's priced himself out of their plans. He won't stay at the bargain rate of $1.55 million he's making this season, via, and could command something near a $3 million annual salary on the open market.

"Jodie has been our most consistent performer," coach Mike D'Antoni said, via Joe Resnick of The Associated Press. "It's really fun to watch someone get better."

If that's the case, D'Antoni has been having a lot more fun than his team's 22-42 record would indicate. Because Meeks has been getting better all season long.

A lot better.

Meeks is the rare volume scorer who added some decibel levels to his workload and found efficiency along with them. A quantity-over-quality contributor in his past, he's managed to make marked improvements in the latter despite shouldering a dramatic increase to the former.

A consistent scoring touch has eased his ascent, but he's relied heaviest on a time-tested training method all too often overlooked in the world of professional sports—hard work:

The basketball book was supposed to be out on the 26-year-old.

He could put up points in bunches (23.7 in his junior, and final, season at the University of Kentucky), but he'd give them away just as quickly at the opposite end. He could (and would) shoot from anywhere with the same chance of success you would have at finding good music on the radio.

At his best, he was a floor spacer, a specialist you hoped could give you just enough of his strengths to compensate for his weaknesses.

That manu...

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