Player Capsule: Metta World Peace
Metta World Peace played his best basketball of 2012-13 early in the season, averaging 14 points per game in November and December while shooting it well from the field (44.5 percent in Dec.) and three (37.6 percent in Nov.).
He was effective on defense both on his man and helping off the ball (1.6 steals), while grabbing nearly six boards per game. Despite the individual boost he offered, the Lakers faltered amidst multiple injuries and lack of continuity with Mike Brown’s firing after five games as replacement Mike D’Antoni tried to get his system installed.
“We were behind the eight ball so much that we didn’t get to see the whole team and who improved their game, and how we’re going to play,” said World Peace.
However, thanks to the Queens native’s strength, D’Antoni was able to use him extensively as a power forward in small line ups traditionally preferred by D’Antoni. In such situations, Kobe Bryant typically slide up to World’s typical small forward position, enabling shooter Jodie Meeks to play at the two and help L.A.’s floor spacing.
World Peace’s defense remained strong come January, but he fell into an extended shooting slump, connecting on only 38.5 percent and 32.6 percent of his shots in January and February, before rebounding with a 45.7 percent shooting clip in March.
Overall, World Peace started 66 games and appeared in 75, averaging 12.4 points, 5.0 rebounds and 1.6 steals on 40.2 percent shooting (34.2 percent on three-pointers).
Among L.A.’s most reliable players, even MWP’s season was derailed in late March when he tore the lateral meniscus in his left knee and had to undergo surgery.
“It was supposed to take six weeks to heal,” reflected MWP in his exit interview. “I was in a situation where I didn’t want to miss the playoffs.”
Thanks in part to the surgery removing, instead of repairing, the meniscus – which results in less swelling and quicker healing – World Peace was able to return just six games (12 days) later. He did manage to play in L.A.’s first three postseason games before sitting out Game 4 of the Round 1 loss to San Antonio due to soreness in that same knee.
He averaged 6.0 points and 3.7 rebounds, shooting just 25 percent from the floor while dealing with the knee.