Metta World Peace #15 of the Los Angeles Lakers steals the ball from Kemba Walker #15 of the Charlotte Bobcats in the first half at Staples Center on December 18, 2012 in Los Angeles, California.
In Tuesday’s 101-100 win against the Charlotte Bobcats, Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni showed that he is still working out lineups and rotations. However, one guy he is sure about is Metta World Peace.
Before the game, D’Antoni told the media that Pau Gasol and Dwight Howard would start together, but he liked World Peace to play at the power forward position, so he would try to rotate the two big men throughout the game. D’Antoni started the game with World Peace on the bench, but his impact on the night was impossible to miss.
World Peace scored 17 points, pulled down 7 rebounds, and had 4 steals, but his presence off the ball was far greater. The Lakers were plus 24 points while World Peace was on the floor on Tuesday night. After the game, D’Antoni said that even when Steve Nash returned, World Peace would come off the bench to play the role of the “stretch four” made famous by Shawn Marion in Phoenix.
Metta World Peace can run the floor, he is strong enough to defend opposing power forwards, he can rebound, he can throw a quick outlet pass, and he can shoot the three ball. When doing a side-by-side comparison, World Peace is superior to Shawn Marion in nearly every area that made Shawn Marion a perfect fit for Mike D’Antoni’s system in Phoenix.
The coach just found the perfect power forward to make his system work without having to trade away Pau Gasol.
D’Antoni explained that World Peace’s role would limit the minutes available to Antawn Jamison and Jordan Hill. Neither Hill nor Jamison stepped foot on the floor in Tuesday’s win.
The Lakers, however, did win, and World Peace played a significant role in making that happen. Even if World Peace was not delivering the perfect pass (0 assists on Tuesday) or shooting especially well (2-10 from threes against the Bobcats), his ability to stretch the floor at power forward made the “old and slow” Lakers suddenly look like a quick dynamic team with Kobe Bryant playing small forward and Jodie Meeks and Darius Morris filling up the back court.