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Jodie Meeks fits Stan Van Gundy's plan, deserves his contract

Jodie Meeks is better than you realize, and a great first step in balancing the Pistons' offense.

Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

If you're not excited about Jodie Meeks' arrival, well, that's basically the point.

Stan Van Gundy was clear with his intentions when meeting with reporters a week before the start of free agency, saying he hoped to sign a handful of unheralded players with specific skills rather than adding a single big name.

"If you do it right, I think the splash you make is on the court when the season goes," Van Gundy said last month, according to the Detroit Free Press. "You can improve your team if you get right ones of those guys. It’s not going to be guys where media, fans and everybody else is going to be doing cartwheels and think you got the guy to turn it around.

"The analogy I’ve used is we’re not going to hit a home run, but if we can hit three singles or two singles and a double and drive in couple runs, we’ll be OK."

The Pistons were absolutely dreadful from behind the 3-point line last season. Actual coaching can improve some of that -- you really think SVG will let Josh Smith set another career mark in 3-point attempts? -- but an infusion of talent was necessary.

And that's what the Pistons are getting in Meeks, who's coming off a career season after playing the most significant minutes of his career for Mike D'Antoni's Lakers. Is he a home run? Of course not. But I'm not so sure he's just a single, either.

As several readers have already pointed out, Meeks' efficiency actually increased as his usage rate went up last year. He started 70 of 77 games, averaging 33.2 minutes and 15.7 points while converting at a career-high rate both inside (51.4 percent) and beyond (40.1 percent) the 3-point line. He also set career marks with 1.8 assists and 1.4 steals per game.

Can Meeks create his own shot? He hasn't been asked to many times, but watch this reel from his 42-point effort against the Thunder and tell me that he's strictly a statue to be positioned behind the 3-point line:

Watch him complete the fast break at the 32-second mark. "Here's Jodie Meeks, one of the fastest players in the NBA end line to end line," says Doug Collins. "One of my favorite players I've ever coached. The guy is a winner."

Now check out the up-and-under reverse at the 1:37 mark. "He might be the fastest player in the NBA."

Hyperbole from a former coach? Absolutely. But he did tie for the third-fastest sprint time in his class at the 2009 NBA Draft Combine (just edging Ty Lawson), and if anything it illustrates that Meeks is far, far more athletic and versatile than a lot of folks realize.

But hell, if everything goes right and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope builds on his late-season flourish with a strong summer league and training camp, Meeks won't start a single game for the Pistons. Instead, Meeks is ideally suited for the role Rodney Stuckey held last year as the first guard off the bench. And unlike Stuckey, a career 28.6 percent 3-point shooter who earned $8.5 million last year, Meeks' presence on the court should make life easier for whatever cornerstone big men are still on the roster instead of making it more difficult.

I have a habit of finding the silver lining to any personnel move this franchise makes in the immediate aftermath, but I'm completely on board with this acquisition. Van Gundy came into free agency with a plan, and he didn't deviate. And while we can quibble over whether Meeks deserved something closer to $16 million than $19.5, any potential overage is pocket change compared to other players on this team, and we still don't know what this free agent market will bear. And either way, I'd much rather invest in a player coming into his own than paying for a resume.

Now your thoughts.