Metta World Peace's success points to post-up work
Amid a three-game losing streak, offensive inconsistency and a compacted schedule, there was one thing out of the Lakers' 98-96 loss Sunday to the Indiana Pacers that shed a glimmer of hope.
That was the prospect of World Peace.
After a 10-game double-digit drought, the player formerly known as Ron Artest, scored 11 points on five of nine shooting, made his only three-point attempt and created turnovers.
"I'm coming back to life, finally," he said.
As with anything regarding Metta World Peace, it's presumptuous to make any conclusions on how he'll follow up on that. But there's one predictable variable that will heighten his success.
The Lakers will maximize World Peace's abilities as a bench reserve only if they mostly utilize him in the post. In all five of his double-digit performances this season, the bulk of his offense came in that area. According to Synergy Sports Technology, World Peace is the 11th-most efficient scorer in post-ups, going 15 for 33 from the field (45.5%). That's a stark difference between, say, his work in isolation sets (21.1%) or from three-point range (14.7%)
"Being a problem in the post isn't really much new," World Peace said. "I haven't had great stats. But when Kobe [Bryant] is averaging 30 [points], Pau [Gasol] and Andrew [Bynum] are other good players. On top of that, with not getting a lot of time, you aren't going to see that much. When I get out there, you will see glimpses."
It is unclear how the Lakers might use World Peace out of the post. Gasol already feels he's not receiving enough looks in that area. Striking a balance between the Lakers' Big Three and World Peace might become even more tricky.
World Peace comes off the bench partly for that reason. But NBA Statscube shows that 12 of the 13 bench combinations features at least Bryant, Gasol or Bynum to help mitigate the reserves' inconsistency. Steve Blake's prolonged absence from cracked cartilage in his chest also complicates matters. A Blake-World Peace tandem appears in nine of those reserve combinations, and World Peace's usage rate mostly remains at its highest when Blake's running at point guard.
"I just try to go with the flow," World Peace said, "and do what Coach says."
Hopefully, for the Lakers' sake, that involves more instruction in operating out of the post. It'll help improve World Peace's poor shooting and allow him to take advantage of his bulky frame. And it will give the bench some stability it has lacked for most of the season.
It remains to be seen, however, whether that prospect for World Peace remains nothing more than a pipe dream.
-- Mark Medina
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