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Jodie Meeks’ disappointing season presents challenges for the Wizards

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NBA: Washington Wizards at Boston Celtics Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

The Wizards have a much better bench compared to last season, but hidden in that improvement is the disappointing performance of Jodie Meeks. Washington signed him to a two-year, $7 million deal last summer, hoping that he’d bounce back after only playing a combined 39 games the previous two seasons.

Thankfully, he has played in all 40 games this season, but even though he has been healthy, he has not lived up to expectations.

He has struggled as a catch and shoot option, the area where the team needed him to excel. Nearly half of his shots this season have come off of those opportunities, and he’s only shooting 34 percent on those shots. As a result, he’s shooting a career-low 31 percent from on three-pointers, the worst percentage on the team among players who have attempted at least 100 threes this season. In fact, only 12 players in the entire league who have attempted at least 100 threes are shooting a lower percentage.

Considering Meeks’ was already established as substandard defender and playmaker, his ineffective shooting makes him a serious liability on the court. Simply put, he has not been effective enough on offense to warrant playing time, and it’s starting to show in how Scott Brooks doles out minutes.

Back in November, Meeks averaged 16.5 minutes per game and played at least ten minutes in all but one game, but since then his minutes per game have steadily declined. Over the last four games, Meeks has only averaged a little more than nine minutes per game, including season-low three minutes against the Chicago Bulls on December 31.

Could he still right the ship? Certainly, but it’s not likely. It’s difficult for aging, undersized shooting guards to recapture their form as they get older. Just ask Monta Ellis.

His struggles beg questions about his potential as a trade piece and what options the team has to find an upgrade for this season and beyond. The Wizards didn’t do themselves any favors by giving him a player option on a second year. Given his performance, he’ll almost certainly opt-in next season, which makes him unattractive to teams looking for an expiring deal.

That said, he’s still movable. They would almost certainly need to package him with some sort of asset, or else take back a comparably bad deal in return, but it would take less sweetener to make his contract palatable than say, Andrew Nicholson’s last season. But given how many young assets the Wizards have already given up in previous years, the best course of action may just be to ride it out and hope for the best rather than mortgage more of the team’s future. Even if they can’t offload Meeks, that doesn’t necessarily preclude them from bringing in someone else at his position who can help, whether it be through a different trade or signing a player who gets waived later this season.

The best thing the Wizards can hope for in the meantime is that he will find some consistency with his shooting between now and the trade deadline, both to help the bench improve and make his deal more appealing as trade discussions intensify. One way or another, they’re going to need to find a way to get more production out of their backup shooting guard if they want to avoid the same pitfalls they faced at the end of last season.