Trending Up: Metta World Peace

Darius Soriano —  November 26, 2012

Coming into the season, I’m not sure anyone had high expectations for Metta World Peace. After a very good first campaign with the Lakers in 2010, Ron saw his production and efficiency decline the past two seasons. Last year, in particular, was as poor a campaign he’d had in some time as nagging injuries kept him from being in peak physical condition and then a late season suspension erased his progress once he did work his way into shape.

This year, however, we’ve seen a brand new Ron. He’s in the best shape of his 4 seasons in Los Angeles, spent the summer working on his outside shot, and has shown a renewed confidence in every aspect of his game. Plus, since the Lakers scrapped the Princeton Offense and moved to a more wide open style, Ron is thriving offensively and putting up his best numbers since he was a featured player in Houston and Sacramento.

Consider the following:

  • His 14.0 points per game are his highest since the 2009 season.
  • His 43.6% shooting from the field is his highest since the 2008 season.
  • His 39.1% shooting from behind the arc is his highest since the 2009 season.
  • His 80% FT shooting is the 2nd highest mark of his career and best since he played for the Pacers.

And while those are his season long numbers, recently he’s been playing even better. In the last 5 games (or, the games since Mike D’Antoni has been actively coaching — either on the bench or running practices), Ron is shooting even better from all spots on the floor, scoring at a higher clip (16 ppg), rebounding better, drawing more fouls, and committing fewer turnovers.

The beauty of Mike D’Antoni’s system is that it allows wing players to face off against defenders in space. Most of the time when a wing catches the ball, he’s working from the weak side of the floor where there’s only one other offensive player to take up space. From this alignment, Ron is able to shoot his jumper in rhythm or use his improved first step and his (still amazing) brute strength to power by his man and get shots to the rim.

Ron shot chart last 5

Looking at Ron’s shot chart, you see this very clearly. Long two pointers and mid-range jumpers have nearly been abandoned for shots in (or near) the paint or three pointers. Because he’s knocking down the long ball at a higher percentage, it’s leading to defenses guarding him more closely which opens up his drives to the rim.

It would be far fetched to think Ron will shoot this well for the rest of the year. But he doesn’t have to shoot 50% from behind the arc (like he has the last 5 games) to be a very effective player in this system. The fact is, just by hitting at the rate he has this season, he’s a legitimate threat that defenses must respect. And with his improved physical condition, he’s now able to put the ball on the floor to get by his man in both the half and open court to create good shots at the rim.

No one is saying Ron is perfect right now. He still has some gunner in him, doesn’t always take shots in rhythm, and will (at times) turn down post entry passes to look for his own shot. But, these negative parts of his game are less frequent this season than at any other part of his Laker career and his production is, at least recently, making up for these less desirable parts of his game.

Coming into the year, Ron was thought to be the weak link amongst the Lakers’ starters but he’s proving — especially recently — that to be a false assumption. Mike D’Antoni’s offense has set him up for success and he’s making the most of his chances. Once the Lakers’ bigs start to play up to their standards consistently and Nash returns, this team has the chance to be as scary — at least on offense — as we all thought they could be.

*Statistical support for this post from NBA.com

Darius Soriano

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28 responses to Trending Up: Metta World Peace

  1. The most prescient stat for me is that I now look forward to an Artest three pointer rather than cringe. #bravenewworld

  2. Players will always have ups and downs throughout a NBA season, Metta seems healthy, happy and is playing very well right now. It’s great to watch him play this way, I’ve always had a soft spot for that guy!

    Let’s hope he stays happy and healthy… and out of on court trouble :)

  3. darius: meaningful article for metta as his ears are probably ringing from thoughts of someone talking about him.

    early on, dave m mentioned he was interested to see how world peace progresses this season. i called metta chop liver at the time because the big four were getting all the attention: bryant, gasol, nash and howard and still pretty much do.

    now that metta has steadily increased his productivity as you and a few others have brought to light; chop liver, it smells so good when cooking on the frying pan, but still tastes like pressed sand. so let’s wait and see and let his productivity marinate a while and hopefully we’ll get some top sirloin during the ongoing season, better yet, some filet mignon come playoff and out of all of this profound effort from metta i affectionately call chop liver. not a sidedish, somebody has to be that afterthought. all champions have at least one.

    Go Lakers

  4. Alright now I want to do lunch thanks to this guy lol. ^^

    Nice write up on Metta!

  5. Dwight clowning Kobe:
    http://tinyurl.com/d87f2np

  6. That Sacre video tribute is the best thing I’ve seen all week!

  7. Good news today – Lakers cancelled Nashes mri and he did strength exercises instead.Pain must be gone/almost and they’ll see how his leg feels over next couple days. Good sign though. Lakers lucked out getting howard and nash – whose injuries aren’t degenerative – and sold as high as possible on Bynum.

    Makes sense of course seeing the numbers that Metta would excel in D’antonis system – he played best under Adelman which was a more open system as well. His decision making is getting better too – he makes more correct plays knowing he’s going to get the ball back.

  8. Really happy to see Peace doing well. The last few games he has played some really good ball. Metta is playing his role to a T on both sides of the ball. Opposing wings must hate it when he guards them. He IS a beast.

    On the League Pass Dallas feed on Sat. night, one of the announcers shared a good story about MWP. Seems that when they were both with the Pacers, Larry Bird said of the man known then as Ron Artest, that “Half of the players in the league are scared of him (Ron) and the other half should be.” Funny stuff!

  9. Metta was serious about having a good season this year.need proof? Look at his conditioning.when your mind and your body is made up at the same time.your skill set will reflect that.i would like metta to work on finishing around the rim.and I’d like for him to receive a screen for more basket drives.i see him as an untapped lebron type beast as far as power goes.if he sharpened his Finish at the basket and mixed up drives with his outside shot, he Would get more space to shoot if he is also a driving threat.his shooting% Would be higher as well.

  10. lil pau, thanks for the video on Sacre. I love his spirit on the bench. That dance
    is pretty unique and I’m sure it won’t be long until the fans in the upper seats are
    doing the Sacre dance. Occasionally, he gets the other Lakers fired up enough
    to get up and celebrate the team.

    After one of the wins DJO did a little dance in front of Dwight.

    Dwight is a goof. Love it! I like people that don’t take themselves so seriously. There
    is nothing wrong with laughing while at work.

    I like the way the Lakers are playing loose, it’s a direct correlation to the team forming
    chemistry.

    Look out NBA!

  11. Lol decaf – would’ve saved a lot of consternation and whining if Pau had said a week or two ago that he had tendinitis – which considering how much he played w the olympics and all would be totally understandable. He woulda earned a pass for the first couple weeks of the season.

  12. Well Pau gasol is injured so of course he would underperform. However, I will say anybody who still thinks gasol is a top 5 PF must be stuck in the past. Gasol is no longer the all star player that teamed up with Kobe to win 2 championships.

  13. Excerpts from MWP exit interview. http://espn.go.com/blog/los-angeles/lakers/post/_/id/30891/metta-world-peace-exit-interview-mwp-believes-in-the-lakers-himself

    “I just feel like I want to pick up right where I left off, and kind of prove something,” proclaimed the former Defensive Player of the Year. “I never like to prove anything, but this time around, I kind of want to prove a little bit.”

    “I think at the end of the game, guys gotta trust themselves more,” said MWP. “I think sometimes, not myself, but sometimes guys, they look to Kobe too much. I think they gotta understand Mitch (Kupchak) brought you here. Mitch also assembled teams that won championships, so he knows what he’s doing. And he brought you here for a reason. Because you’re good. So believe in yourself.”

    “Chip in. Don’t watch… chip in so Kobe can get his sixth ring, so I can get my second, and Pau (Gasol) can get his third, and things like that.”

    He’s playing with a chip on his shoulder and believing in himself. Keeping his word doing all the things he said he would. Lakers are so much better when Ron is aggressive. Looking forward to him keeping it up all year.

  14. Pau is still good.if he went into beast mode in the Olympics, we need to put him back in the Olympics!how do we do that? Place him at center..off the bench.Pau is too passive to play with Dwight or kobe he won’t shine in the post for fear of stepping on Dwhights toes.with the second unit he will call for the ball. let’s put Pau back in the Olympics.by making him center off the bench.

  15. Isn’t the therapy for tendinitis rest? Why is Pau playing if he’s hurting? If its not too much of a pain, then why not reduce his minutes and have him play with the Bench guys?

  16. Yes Gasol would be a MAJOR force off the bench that we’ve been looking for.

    Jamison I reckon would start.

    Hill would be the backup 4 and away we go!

  17. The timing of this tendinitis revelation seems a little funky….

  18. Doubtless there’s history to explain this, but it’s incongruous to read a headline using MWP’s chosen name and then see “Ron” throughout the text. In the unlikely event of a vote on the subject, I’m not a fan of the “Ron” usage.

  19. Braziman,
    Next time I’ll use Ron in the headline. I call him Ron. It’s highly unlikely I’ll ever stop calling him Ron unless absolutely forced to.

  20. Mike,
    On countless occassions, Ron has said people can call him Ron. I follow his brother on Twitter and he calls him Ron. After the last Kings game in Sacramento, Jim Gray interviewed Ron and asked “should I call you Metta?” and Ron replied, “you can call me Ron.” So, I’m pretty sure he’s fine with people calling him Ron.

  21. Ko – that would take away our only legit post player though, which we will need inevitably when pace slows down in the playoff at times. Dwight has zero true back to the basket/post moves as we’re seeing – he’s effective 90% based on his athletic abilities – not on any post game he has. If we trade Pau – Memphis, San Antonio, OKC (w Perkins) willl be able to neutralize Dwight relatively well come playoff time. Lets face it – Dwight is our Amare 2007- the difference is Dwight can defend but can’t shoot 15 footers or free throws. In Phoenix D’Antoni got crapped on all the time for not having a true post presence but you can only play the players you have – until he got Shaq his last year and Shaq actually fit in quite well (until the stupid Duncan triple over time 3ptr that ripped hearts out fatality style). If Pau’s knees are that bad – then thats a good enough reason to bring him off the bench for the time being and let Jamison carry a little more load. Pau won’t get properly conditioned until his knees get better anyways.

  22. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b2FbD1lvyxE

    Anyday is a good day to celebrate a Celtics loss.

  23. When a person starts questioning whether or not a player is not 100% physically when he says he’s not, I’m pretty sure that says more about the person doing the questioning than it does the player who says he’s hurt.

  24. What do you mean Mr. Soriano?

  25. Ron said before the season started that if Lakers didnt win the chip, you put blame on him. Thars the same exact words he said in 2010.

  26. Ron/MWP, still goes by Ron. Yes, his jersey says World Peace, but he still goes by and answers to Ron as well.

  27. one thing is clear for metta. he means buziness..the stats show his real value to this team..