Metta World Peace, Small Forward
Los Angeles Lakers small forward Metta World Peace has had an up and down season for the Lakers.
It started out as a very rocky road for Metta as his offensive production was atrocious. He could not find his touch from behind the three-point line, his defense was so-so, and it appeared he was in for a long season. Although unlike last year, as this season went on, Metta’s legs and conditioning got better and better. Laker fans all over remember the blown lay-up against Dallas in the playoffs last year; well this year Metta was dunking like he was 20-years old again.
Before Metta World Peace became a Laker, he was normally either the first or second scoring option for his team. As a Laker, he is usually the third to fourth option, meaning he does not touch the ball that often in a scoring position. That means that it is harder for him to get into an offensive flow/rhythm. There are two factors that help Metta be an offensive threat for the Lakers. First, the Lakers look to go to him at the start of the game, and second, he gets himself going by getting easy baskets from the post. He is too strong to be denied in the post, so when he sets up underneath the basket, not only is he unstoppable, but he is able to see the ball go into the basket giving him confidence for the rest of the game.
Offensively MWP averaged 7.7 points per game in 64 games. Shooting 39.4 percent from the floor and 29.6 percent from 3-point territory, Metta was a frustrating player to watch. However, he seemed to show potential and flashbacks to the younger Ron Artest days when the Lakers would play a champions contending team. He always was able to motivate himself and play well against teams like Dallas, Oklahoma, San Antonio, Miami, etc.
Yet Metta showed his most promising potential when Kobe Bryant sat out seven games and he averaged 14 points per game with a high of 26. His play was beginning to be what everyone excepted, averaging double-digit points and taking some of the pressure off Kobe Bryant.
Despite being suspended for seven games after elbowing James Harden of the Oklahoma City Thunder, MWP returned to action in the first round of the playoffs for Game 7 without missing a beat offensively. Playing 44 minutes and shooting a terrible 5-15, he still managed 15 points and some crucial points late in the fourth quarter. In his six post-season games, he averaged 11.7 ppg on 36.7 percent shooting.
Defensively, Metta World Peace was as solid as they come. Never afraid to defend the opponent’s best player and get under their skin, he could always be counted on when the team needed a stop. Averaging 1.1 steals per game in the regular season, he upped his play and averaged 2.2 steals in the playoffs, and five of his six games he guarded the NBA’s regular season scoring champion, Oklahoma City Thunder’s Kevin Durant.
Grading Metta on the season breaks down into two different seasons, regular and post. In the regular season, he was an average player all year round excluding big games. In the playoffs he was much better. All in all, I would give Metta World Peace a B for his play all year.