While Metta World Peace probably doesn’t know himself what he plans to do after being amnestied by the Lakers last week, contemplating retirement or playing in China being just a couple options being weighed in Peace’s head, I for one don’t think he should retire.
Additionally, while I hate the fact that World Peace won’t be suiting up for my favorite team any more, I would hate to see him retire now, as I feel he still has a couple years left in him and a lot to offer teams.
First off, he has a warrior mentality on the court, which can certainly be contagious. Additionally, that type of attribute coupled with his defensive prowess would be an asset to any team–young, old, experienced, inexperienced, title contender, or even a lowly team.
Speaking of defensive abilities–which have been World Peace’s specialty over the years–Metta is always thinking and acting on the defensive end of the floor; often being a leader on that end, as well as a strategist and communicator.
Again, that kind of experience coupled with his mentality are hugely valuable to any team.
Offensively, while Metta World Peace averaged just 12.4 points last season, he started off the season in great shape and was scoring quite consistently at a decent clip.
With the league is playing more of a fast-tempo game with traditional small forwards plugging the four slot, World Peace can actually be considered a “stretch four” against plenty of teams, luring more traditional power forwards out of the paint.
On the perimeter, we all know how pestering he can be, so he’s certainly able to guard small forwards but also the new players being labeled as “stretch fours.”
However, while World Peace–formerly Ron Artest–will go down in history as one of the toughest perimeter defensive players, the fact that he can guard players in the post too, can be a strength of his if he decides to extend his career by a few years.
Let me explain.
The fact that more teams are using smaller players as “power forwards” (LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Durant) actually works in Metta’s favor.
While the players I mentioned above can often blow past World Peace with a couple fancy moves (as well as almost any player), when they have to work in the post and play closer to the basket, it’s easier for World Peace to guard them.
Yes, World Peace has been a perimeter defender most of his career, but his body is built strong and can disrupt those smaller players who play close to the post.
The move works well for guys like Lebron and Anthony, as last season they played the four spot 59 percent and 75 percent, respectively, and their PERs (Player Efficiency Ratings) were up significantly while playing that position (36.7 and 24.8, respectively. Durant played just 22 percent at power forward, with a PER of 33.5 compared with 28.8 at small forward).
However, injuries to his teammates last season pushed World Peace into the power forward slot for 17 percent of his time on the floor, and his opponents’ PER was 13.7 compared with 15.0 when he was guarding his familiar small forward position.
Essentially, the evolution and change of style in which the game has played has actually been perfect timing for World Peace.
While he can still chase around quicker guards from time to time, his ability to guard post players is a valuable skill.
When faced up against bigger, more traditional power forwards, such as Zach Randolph or Blake Griffin, he can still take advantage of the lack of ball-handling skill. Not to say that players like Randolph or Griffin are bad ball-handlers (Randolph’s post game is much more refined than Blake’s, however), but the bigger the player, typically the longer dribble and less amount of ball-handling skill occurs as footwork is more frequently relied upon.
World Peace has the bulk to match up with most power forwards, and the quick hands and tenacity to disrupt their game.
Against the newer breed of power forward–guys like LeBron and Melo–he’s not as easy to get around as bigger, slower players. Additionally, those guys like to use their strength to anchor them in the post, and World Peace loves playing physically and bullying opponents.
World Peace certainly would be playing in the NBA if the Lakers had retained him, and it looks like his loyalty to Lakers fans has swayed him in the direction of retiring or playing overseas. Although I’d hate to see him in another jersey next season, I’d also hate to see a player who can add so much to any team leave the NBA.
His good heart and comedic nature are also perks of signing the NBA vet.
So Metta, if you’re reading this, from a Lakers fan who really hates to see you go, I think you should still remain in the NBA because you still have a lot to offer any team that will have you.
For general managers out there, if your team is in need of a relentless defender and tough presence, you may want to consider signing Metta World Peace.
Whatever happens to World Peace, I’m sure he’ll continue to be a source of entertainment.
Good luck, Metta!