Five things Metta World Peace needs for a successful season
This is the fourth part of a series that focuses on five things each Lakers player must do to have a successful 2011-12 season (assuming there is one, of course).
1. Limit distractions. Criticism regarding Metta World Peace falling to distractions misses the point. That's because he has both thrived and failed while keeping a busy schedule. Even if World Peace's basketball abilities largely dictate whether he improves from last season, it's in his interests to temper his antics. It would ease any teammate frustration regarding his goofy behavior. It would also relieve him of any media and team criticisms that his outside ventures hurt his play.
2. Have the right mindset on defense. Artest still proved pretty efficient on defense last season against Oklahoma City's Kevin Durant, Denver/New York's Carmelo Anthony, the Clippers' Eric Gordon and Portland's Brandon Roy. According to Synergy, Artest did well in isolation plays (26th overall) and spot-up sets (20th overall). Many times, however, Artest became so fixated on defending an opponent (LeBron James, Dirk Nowitzki) that it actually hurt the Lakers' team defense. Case in point, Artest finished 248th overall in post-up plays, 96th in defending off the ball and 71st in stopping the ball handler on the pick and roll.
3. Become more efficient on offense. The defining moments of Artest's career-low 8.5 points per game average on 39.7% shooting last season involved the crowd reaction at Staples Center anytime he touched the ball. Every Lakers fan knew they would soon witness a shot that lacked much marksmanship. As much as this illustrated Artest's poor shot selection, it also revealed his overall discomfort in the offense. He needs to work on excelling in the little things, receiving his points because of sharp off-ball movement or timely offensive rebounds.
4. Be adaptable to any role change. Artest recently suggested handle a bench role this season with grace. Though playing him as a reserve would hurt the Lakers in various ways, laud World Peace for his willingness to handle a demotion. Should his abilities decline, it's possible Mike Brown would limit his minutes and Artest will need to handle that as constructive criticism than as a personal slight.
5. Pace properly. At 31 years old and entering his 13th NBA season, it's necessary for Artest to monitor his practice schedule closely. His prolonged shooting sessions and frequent weight training illustrates his work ethic, but it also shows he sometimes overtrains. Artest needs to understand the value of playing smarter with more efficiently than simply working hard.
Five things to ensure a successful season for...
-- Mark Medina
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Photo credit: Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times.