Metta World Peace’s Recent Struggles Highlight a Bigger Problem

Darius Soriano —  February 11, 2013

As drama does its best to engulf the Lakers’ season and swallow it whole, it’s the big stories that seem to grab our attention day in and day out. Be it Kobe’s shifting roles, Dwight’s shoulder, Nash’s adjustments and attempts to bring the team together, Pau’s foot, or the general sniping through the press, this season hasn’t lacked narratives to explain what’s going wrong.

Lately however, even in the face of these storylines, things have been looking up. The Lakers are 7-3 in their last 10 and their only “bad” loss was to a Suns team that came back after Dwight Howard injured his shoulder. (Yes, the Celtics’ loss was frustrating for a variety of reasons, but they’ve been playing great ball and a loss to them is explainable). This team, while still having the buzzards circling, is actually playing solid basketball as roles become more defined and a reliable style of play has become the norm.

One player, however, who is not playing well is Metta World Peace. The guy I still call Ron is going through his worst stretch of the season and while the Lakers are still finding ways to win through his struggles, his poor play is highlighting the lack of reliable wing depth this team has.

Before we go any further, it’s important to quantify exactly what Ron is going through on both sides of the ball.

Over the last 5 games, Ron is averaging less than 8 points a game while shooting 26.3% from the field, 19% from the three point line, and 55.6% from the foul line. Extend the threshold to 10 games and his numbers aren’t much better with an average of a shade over 10 points per game on 30.6% shooting from the field including 29.7% from behind the arc. Furthermore, Ron has become more of a ball stopper on offense in the last five games, looking to score in isolations more and settling for the type of shots that should only be taken with the shot clock running down.

More of an issue than his offensive struggles is the decline in his defensive effectiveness. First, it should be made clear, Ron still has some of the best defensive hands in the league. The ball is never safe when Ron is guarding his man closely and one second of over exposure can lead to the ball being poked or swiped away. However, his foot speed has declined to the point that he’s having trouble executing multiple defensive slides on the perimeter without giving up a driving lane. This leads to defensive breakdowns that puts even more pressure on the Lakers’ interior defenders.

While PER isn’t a perfect statistical tool and can’t be the sole way we evaluate players, it does a do a very good job of compiling box score stats with usage rates and giving an indicator of how efficiently a player is performing on offense. PER against, then, is a handy way of measuring how well your opponent is playing when being defended by you. Last season, Ron posted a PER against of 11.8 when defending small forwards and a PER against of 8.3 when defending power forwards. These numbers, though not telling the entire story of how a defender is playing, show a very effective defender who could swing between both forward spots. This season, however, Ron’s opponents are posting a PER against of 14.8 when playing SF and 18.1 when playing PF. Again, these numbers don’t tell the entire story, but they do tell a story. And it’s one of a player in decline on that side of the ball.

It’s gotten to the point that Earl Clark is taking the task of defending most of the better wing offensive players (though, to be fair, Ron did “guard” LeBron on Sunday). So, instead of Ron chasing around Kevin Durant, it’s Clark. And instead of Ron taking the next best offensive wing, Kobe is often being asked to defend that player instead. Ron, then, is usually asked to defend the opposing PF or even the C where he has the strength and hand quickness to battle and be disruptive, but not the height or length to be the lockdown force he once was.

While I’ve spent a lot of time knocking Ron down a level (or two) for his recent play and some of his season long shortcomings, this is really more about the Lakers’ lack of a viable alternative on their roster and the best way to use Ron as he ages. What hasn’t yet been said is that while Ron is giving up a hefty PER to opposing PF’s, he’s also playing better on offense as a “stretch four” than he is as a traditional SF. Ron’s PER as a PF is a robust 21.7. In that role he’s usually not at a quickness deficit against his man and has the ability to play the role of a shooter and driver against players who aren’t used to defending on the wing. He gets better shots as a PF and has more advantages in that role.

But, the Lakers don’t have the depth to play him there full time. The only other natural SF on the roster besides Ron is Devin Ebanks and he’s never been more buried. This leaves the option of moving Kobe up to SF (which he can do), but also opens exposes some of the Lakers’ issues at SG behind their future hall of famer. Jodie Meeks is a fine player who can play 15-20 minutes (or more depending on how his shot is falling), but he lacks solid size and can be exposed in more physical match ups. And if Meeks isn’t getting those minutes, the Lakers are stuck playing a PG (Blake, Duhon) at SG and those same issues (size, quickness, defensive ability) are only exacerbated.

This brings us back to an issue we’ve been discussing for most of the season: the Lakers need another viable wing to help them get through the end of the season. The roster, as it currently stands, has the depth it needs at PG (Nash, Blake), SG (Kobe, Meeks), PF (Clark, Jamison, Ron), and even C (Dwight Sacre). Even with Pau Gasol injured, the team can make enough adjustments with their current group of players to manage their size issues and find a solid rotation at PF/C to get through (as long as Dwight is capable of suiting up). What they don’t have, however, is enough depth at SF to manage — unless they plan at playing guys out of position and going stretches of games with undersized players being asked to do more than they’re capable.

Don’t  get me wrong. Ron can still play SF for some stretches. And Earl Clark’s defensive versatility means that Ron doesn’t have to chase players who are much quicker than him around the perimeter for all his minutes. However, as it stands today, Ron is playing 34 minutes a night and his production doesn’t warrant that — especially not lately. But the Lakers simply don’t have a player on their roster to take any of those minutes away. Not with Kobe still playing roughly 38 minutes a night and Clark playing well over 30 a night since he became a part of the regular rotation.

Plus, the fact is, that even if this is just a bad stretch for Ron (which is possible) and he returns to the production levels he showed earlier in the season (also possible, but not likely), the Lakers are still shallow on the wing. On nights where Meeks or Ron play poorly, there aren’t enough players who are capable to fill in the gaps. Unless you count Jamison as a wing player (and I don’t) or expect Clark to play over 40 minutes a night (which is not reasonable). Something, then, needs to be done.

How the Lakers deal with this the rest of the season will matter. It may not be their biggest problem and it’s certainly not the one that will generate the most headlines. But it’s still something that needs addressing.

Darius Soriano

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65 responses to Metta World Peace’s Recent Struggles Highlight a Bigger Problem

  1. The Lakers are 7 – 3, even with MWP struggling on both ends. It’s amazing that they’ve played so well. If this team can get consistent production from the SF spot, coupled with the return of Gasol, they can make some serious noise come playoff time.

  2. We are really screwed in that position, i noted on another post that the offense ran way more fluid on the Nets game because Ron wasnt playing. He is a offensive black hole right now 90% of the time he gets the ball he wont give it back and almost everytime its an ill conceived shot. Im my opinion i bench his ass ala Pau and take my chances with Earl Clark on the wing and gulp!!! Jamison at the 4, it cant be worse than what Ron is giving us. Or made a trade, bring someone from the D-league sign a FA for the rest of the season but something needs to be done.

  3. “The only other natural SF on the roster besides Ron is Devin Ebanks and he’s never been more buried.”

    I would really like to see one of the numerous LA-based sportswriters ask the head coach, on camera, why the quote above is true. This far into a disastrous season, with awful play from so many players and so little depth or athleticism, we should not all be guessing about why a guy who can provide both of these things cannot get off the bench. What is so hard about asking the coach “why don’t you ever play Devin Ebanks?” or “what does Ebanks have to do to get some playing time?”

    As to the lack of depth and bench production, many people have killed the front office for not filling out this roster better. I certainly don’t absolve the FO, but they assembled a team with three “superstars” plus Steve Nash. The cost of these three stars is nearly $70 milion a year, and for this the team is getting three bad team defenders and 57 points per game. Add in Nash, and the defense gets worse, the payroll balloons to nearly $80 million, and the total points comes in at just under 70 ppg.

    The Heat, by contrast, pay about $52 million for their top 3, and get great team defense and about 64 ppg. In other words, the Heat pay their big 3 about $18 million a year less than the Lakers’ big three, and get better defense and more offense from them. That gives them the luxury of having more money to spend on depth–with less need for that depth.

    Add in age and injury propensity, and it should be clear that the Laker approach is one that leaves very little margin for error–and with serious injuries to Nash, Gasol, and Howard this year, we’ve blown well past that margin….

  4. I really believe that if we could get rid of Eubanks/Duhon or Morris for an athletic 3 it would make a whole lot of difference, World Peace is just left all by his lonesome on offense and beat up on defense. His defender just goes where the ball is to help the other defender. With a starting lineup of Nash/Kobe/atletic 3 that can shoot/Clark/Howard we could win some games because they can’t keep tripling Kobe. This would give Nash or Kobe whomever has the ball three outlet passes.

    I said this yesterday after the game , the team has got to do something about MWP. I really believed they should have amnested him before this season. Most people thought they would. He is actually hurting the team. We need at least 1 good wing. MWP horrible and Eubanks don’t know where his head is right know.

  5. Rusty Shackleford February 11, 2013 at 1:45 pm

    You can’t fault Ron’s effort and willingness to do whatever is being asked of him. Plus he plays with a toughness that nobody other than Kobe on this team brings night-in, night-out.

    That said, Ron has been slinging clangers like Rile Webster lately. I think he’s just getting too old to play the minutes he is. Remember, at the beginning of the season we were all marveling at his fitness and performance.

    Darius – Am I sensing a plea for Devin Ebanks to get a slot in the rotation? Maybe even just 10 minutes. The dude blocked Kevin Durant’s shot twice in the same playoff game last season. That shows he has some notable athletism.

  6. Rusty,
    No, I’m not calling for Ebanks to play. If I was, I’d have said so.

  7. To me, the Achilles’ heel of the Lakers as an organization has been their inability to fill the back end of the roster with serviceable players. Since the Shaq/Kobe years, the only player that the Lakers have had coming off their bench who would likely be a starter on other teams is Lamar Odom. And now Pau Gasol, who is an unwilling sixth man. So, I’m not sure if he fits the criteria.

    As a team that is always in the hunt, the Lakers haven’t had high draft picks to re-stock their cupboard. The results are what we see now, a top heavy team that has very little consistent bench support. The Lakers have to get lucky and creative somehow. Perhaps reaching into the D-League pool or taking a chance on a so-called head case like Delonte West or Kenyon Martin. The Lakers probably could have had Andre Blatche or Raymond Felton this past off season, but were perhaps scared off by their reputations.

    As a team with high expectations, it has always surprised me that the Lakers haven’t invested more in their scouting dept. They haven’t come up with an unexpected player in quite a long time. The way Metta is going, I can’t see why MD’A doesn’t give Devin Ebanks some burn. If he can’t give the team anything, then get rid of him. In today’s NBA, the best teams are the deepest teams. Even if Pau were available and healthy, and Dwight were 100% and the Lakers’ starters were playing up to their potential, they would still need a viable bench presence to achieve their goals.

  8. E-B-A-N-K-S.

    This is not the Newlywed Game.

  9. We are using Clark to back up Dwight in smaller situations, or MWP is effectively the center with Earl playing PF. This means Jamison isn’t available to play SF, even if any of us wanted him there.

    Mike D. really doesn’t have much choice, but to try Ebanks for at least a few minutes at this position. Not to do so will indicate a stubbornness some bloggers have attributed to him. It is really possible Ebanks stinks up the joint with his shooting, but he couldn’t be much worse than MWP recently. My only concern is the gossip I head a while ago, that he was simply a bump on a log and wasn’t putting anything into practice – simply watching the end of his NBA career. If any of that is true, I don’t think the coach would trust him with anything going on in the game.

    I just don’t see anything being available, unless we are willing to take on some salary this year, that another club wants to dump. In our financial situation that would be a difficult proposition to follow.

  10. Darius do you have any insight Into why Eubanks is not getting any Pt from what i see he is similar to Trevor Ariza whats the deal?

  11. Funky,

    You point out a key thing about the cap and the lakers use of it. The thing is that 1) some of these deals are pretty ancient and were part of getting a buy in at the time, and not perhaps viewed with the full long term implications and 2) this is the best market in the NBA, with the best TV deal, so there can be more allowance for salary “anomalies”.

    Overall, I view the current cap situation as a version of the mortgage coming due…to secure Kobe and Pau, they needed to give them very big deals (one of which was under a different CBA, I believe). That was crucial in getting two rings, a few years ago. The team is paying for that now.

    Given this and given what the Heat did in order to set themselves up with a better bench, I wonder what is possible in 2014/2015. Yes, it is probably too late, but if Kobe (and possibly Pau) would take less to come back for one or two more years, and if Dwight isn’t signed to a very crazy deal, wouldn’t there be a lot of money out there to get a couple of solid though less expensive role players, (say a Battier and a Bledsoe type) so that you would have an older but much more diversified and solid team?

  12. Rusty Shackleford February 11, 2013 at 2:46 pm

    Damned auto correct.

  13. How many chances have been given to Eubanks? Its not like even if he get some burn he is going to be the answer. He is a scrub plain and simple and i doubt any team is willing to give anything of value for Morris Duhon and Eubanks, of the 3 only Morris have some value and not much, we would get the same value for the refuse we are trading away. Im sure the team is going to stay put because there is nothing valuable to trade.

  14. Interesting reading in the Yahoo piece linked in the last thread. It basically detailed Dwight’s assertion that he is still trying to recover from two serious injuries. I’ve got to give him the benefit of the doubt on this. It’s easy for us to bash him because the team is losing and it doesn’t seem like he is putting out 100%, but maybe this is all he is capable of at this time. Admittedly, I also feel that he is playing without enthusiasm, but maybe he is doing the best he can, trying to tough it out through the pain.

  15. the other Stephen February 11, 2013 at 3:06 pm

    E-B-A-N-K-S.

    This is not the Tonight Show with Jay Leno.

  16. Off topic….

    During yesterday’s Celtic-Denver game, the on court mike picked up one of the Celtics yelling at a Nugget after a blocked shot. What he said could clearly be heard…it was “Get that sh*t out of here, N-word!”

    I have a real problem with this. For people seated courtside to be exposed to this type of foul language is a far from an ideal situation. Something needs to be done to curb those type of vile outbursts. I find it strange in a league so concerned with perception, that type of behavior is tolerated and not punished.

  17. When the year started Ron was invigorated and letting it fly with no hesitation. Now he catches the ball with a second to launch and flinches. He doesn’t have the same confidence in his shot. He’s just bulling his way to the hoop for the left hand layup. That sequence stalls out the offense and usually ends with a 4 on 5 break because he fell down. This is much bigger than a slump but for a veteran player you just hope he can turn it around. The tough part about trying to get someone fill the wing spot is it will probably cost Lakers Clark. Best option may be to hope he turns it around.

  18. Your right on that Kevin teams would love to get their hands on Clark now, but unless the Lakers trade him for Durant or Rudy Gat straight up lol it wont happen, thats the kind of player that we need for the future. The Lakers cant let him go after the season either, he wants to stay and he should get a 2 year deal with a fair payday nobody is going to break the bank for him just yet. But he needs to stay here.

  19. http://espn.go.com/los-angeles/nba/story/_/id/8937440/kobe-bryant-chides-twitter-follower-using-anti-gay-insult

    Bryant, who has nearly 1.3 million Twitter followers, reprimanded a fan who tweeted “You’re gay” to another fan.

    In response to the insult that was posted Sunday on his own Twitter feed, Bryant tweeted: “Just letting you know@PacSmoove @pookeo9 that using “your gay” as a way to put someone down ain’t ok! #notcool delete that out ur vocab.”

    Bryant was fined $100,000 in April for using a gay slur in a nationally televised game, an incident that NBA commissioner David Stern called “offensive and inexcusable.”

    After receiving a technical foul in a game against the San Antonio Spurs, Bryant yelled at referee Bennie Adams before muttering a gay slur while sitting on the bench. The episode was caught on camera during TNT’s national telecast.

    Bryant apologized a day later, saying that he did not mean to offend anyone.

    Following his tweet Sunday, one of Bryant’s followers reminded the All-Star about April’s incident.

    Bryant tweeted in response: “exactly! That wasn’t cool and was ignorant on my part. I own it and learn from it and expect the same from others.”

  20. Im pretty sure that 100, 000 that he had to pay up hurt more than any slur. People are just way too sensitive nowadays.

  21. It’s funny because people thought Clark was a scrub until he started getting consistent minutes. He’ll, Dantoni was forced to give Jordan Hill minutes and he has been huge for us since last year. We don’t have many options but I believe Ebanks can get some of MWPs minutes. What’s the worse that can happen? We get more athletic and energy from the wing spot? I would like to see Clark and Ebanks on the court at the same time ( @ least for a few minutes)

  22. The difference between Ebanks and Clark is that the moment he was given significant minutes he produced right away and have never looked back, how many times have Ebanks started the last 2 seasons and on those games he have significant minutes he really impacted the game? Clark impact every single game Ebanks have never done nothing noteworthy with what he is been given. They could use him as a stiff to throw out there to rest MWP and Clark but there is not much we can expect from him.

  23. Yea, he had a few decent stretches. But if it rests Metta some, I think it could bold well for us long term. I think this is where roles need to be defined from the head coach, the coach needs to define roles and lead. I think he can develop into solid defensive player IF he is developed properly. But more importantly we need another big body to help rebounding. Look how Birdman helped out Miami sunday

  24. Really this was the best article of the year here at FB&G. Most are well written but few have the element of sheer uniqueness. It’s hard to come up with those stories In a 82 game season with several different bloggers and media outlets covering the Lakers.

    Ive seen Artest really struggle defensivley this season. I was wondering if the numbers do indeed back that up. Until this year Ron was a dominant defensive player. No he wasn’t the same defensive player of the year he was in his younger days but he was a top 5 NBA defensive player until this November. The numbers back that up as well. I’m sure some of his defensive slippage stems from not having Andrew Bynum behind him anymore. Although of course a healthy Dwight would be a much different story.

    It’s probably absurd Ron’s slippage hasn’t been brought up so clearly until this point. We are talking about one of the steepest defensive declines ever witnessed. If this was on the other side of the ball there would have been numerous ESPN collumns by Henry Abbott typed up by now.

    It would be sacrilegious to write an NBA comment without mentioning LeBron’s recent exploits. He is the reason for any sports fan to watch NBA games right now. A modern day Bo Jackson.

  25. I said yesterday that the Lakers’ primary need is an athletic wing defender. Even if the guy couldn’t play O, he would still help. This piece reinforces that. Kobe HAS to play, obviously, so he and Metta need help.

    I also want to say that AFAIAC, Game 7 make’s MWP’s contract worth what we are dealing with now.

  26. that should be “makes”

  27. Good story Darius.

    Aaron I have been yelling about Metta for the past month. He is hurting the team on both ends if the court. There is something seriously wrong with the guy.

    Watching Philly/Clips makes be wonder of Andrew ever really wanted to play this year for Philly. He knows there is a bank in every city and
    just may have dumped the year.

    As down as I am on Dwight, Andrew may turn out to be a bigger quitter. Dwight is at least playing even though at a diminished level.

    Laker basketball should’t be this hard!

  28. The difference between Clark and Ebanks is that Clark has been in the league longer than Ebanks; and Clark stayed in college all four years while Ebanks did not. Ebanks entered the league as a defensive player, however Phil wanted him to work on his offense. After working on his offense all summer, Brown wanted him to be a defensive player. Now he has a new coach in D’Antoni whom wants him to ______. Devin played quite well when Kobe was out last season, then he just didn’t get back into the rotation for whatever reason. More than likely Ebanks will go to another team and blossom into an Earl Clark and the other team will laugh at the Lakers.

    As has been noted, it would definitely not hurt the Lakers to give Devin Ebanks significant minutes in the game. Even if he makes mistakes maybe he’s athletic enough to erase those mistakes, because that’s exactly what Clark is doing.

    Kobe’s stats were ridiculous yesterday, and one thing I know for sure they weren’t on break away dunks.

    Why doesn’t Lebron get calls against him for being bigger than the other players the way that Shaquille used to get?

  29. Here’s what I think. I think that Dwight actually believed that he was going to be the man in LA. That he would be #1 in the pecking order with Kobe in the twilight of his career. Despite all of the evidence that Kobe will never let go of being the #1 option as long as he is playing in LA, Howard was having that fantasy.

    Here’s the thing. It makes sense. Howard is entering the prime of his career, much like Lebron when he entered Miami. (Remember how weird it was in Miami? Lebron and Wade being overly polite to eachother and taking turns being the man. Eventually they hit a wall and realized that somebody had to be #1 and somebody had to be #2. I give Wade all of the credit in the world for letting go of his ego and basically saying that Lebron should be #1.)

    Theoretically the Lakers make more sense with Howard as the centerpiece. His ceiling is alot higher than Kobe’s at this point in his career. He can also do alot more damage on offense than Kobe, getting the other team in deep foul trouble and breaking down their defense.

    All conventional wisdom would point to building around Howard over Bryant in 2013. Howard doesn’t work as a supporting character. He is getting a very rude awakening that he should have seen coming. His injury blues and the realization that he will not be #1 as long as Bryant is around has him reeling, and pouting. He actually has a valid point.

    Kobe won’t be a supporting character either, at least not for an extended period of time. This hurts the Lakers in the bigger picture.

    So yeah, Howard is acting like a baby, but his beef makes alotta sense. He should be getting the most touches on this team on a nightly basis. I guarantee his game would come to life and we would see something that resembles the energetic Howard that you remember from Orlando.

    Having Kobe’s back is understandable from an LA fans point of view. He bring it every night(at least on offense). But is it a good strategy to win a championship with Dwight Howard on your team, and have an elder Bryant be launching as many shots as Howard and Pau combined?

    There’s a reason that LA started winning when Kobe was distributing relentlessly. It’s because he was filling the hole that they needed to make the other parts stronger. When Kobe starts being Mamba, it has the opposite effect. Everything falls apart, and everyone is expected to play the role as Kobe’s sidekicks. It just doesn’t makes sense anymore.

  30. Any team that wins championships in any sport has hard decisions to make about keeping players past their due date. LA is paying now for all the years of past success, it will happen to OKC and Miami if their stars play long enough together. Trying to make one last run with the ones that got you there is always a slippery slope.

  31. Ron looks like he did last year when he had the back issues. Considering he was in great shape and got off to a very good start, I am wondering if the back has gone out again.

  32. darius: agreed; the front office should be hard pressed to improve the small forward position. a little push here, a little prodding there should help to crystalize the notion that sadly something must be done to improve the position soon because there is little wiggle room left in the regular season to enable lakers ability to win enough games to get into the playoffs. can’t remember the last time the notion of making the playoffs was an issue; considering the so called star power; albeit aged but knowledgeable enough to run their own offensive sets without a slew of laker coaches actually fulfilling their job descriptions: coaching.

    so here we are; ten days from the trade deadline and waiting for kupchak and the bartender bunch to make a move; any move that will improve the team.

    no time like the present. message receive darius.

    Go Lakers

  33. NCDon…

    Good points.

    CHearn…LeBron gets away with a lot on the court. He travels a lot and he uses his arms like a football straight arm to clear space constantly. Great player, but he gets away with a lot.

  34. Kenny T,

    I agree with you on Dwight. Maybe what he is giving is all he can give at this point. Maybe the attitude comes from persistent frustration. He’s never dealt with any truly hampering injuries. For the first time in his career his body won’t do what he wants it to do. Back injuries are not like other injuries. You don’t just “play through” severe back pain. Truth be told, he probably should be sitting. Because as long as he’s out there people will expect him to play to a certain level. If he really can’t reach that level he needs to be upfront and shut it down for the rest of the season.

  35. I agree about Artest being a weak link. But the foundational issue between Howard and Bryant has not been resolved. Howard started acting like it was resolved after Kobe started being the distributor and Howard started getting fed, ALOT.

    That was when he started saying that they had worked things out.. He started to be very productive and loose, even happy.

    Whenever Kobe goes into his traditional mamba-mode, Howard starts to shutdown. When the media asks what he thinks about not getting alot of touches, he just says “he doesn’t want to talk bout it.”

    Dwight hates confrontation, so he thinks hell get his way by pouting and being passive-aggressive. The only way he will be happy is if he is fed ALOT. It’s that simple folks.

    Howard will sulk as long as he is not The Man. Kobe feeds him kibbles and bits because he realizes that is the only way to make him productive. He doesn’t want to do it, though. Not long term.

    If he is going to have any chance at ever winning again, Kobe will have to default to Dwight. He has to be second-fiddle. It is the only way it will work if they are on the same team.

    Kobe thinks he is “passing too damn much” when they lose. He has to realize that they lose ALOT more when he doesn’t pass enough and he dominates the ball.

    The Lakers aren’t a great team when they are playing the right way, but they are pretty good and capable of winning on almost any night. Who will convince Kobe that he has to play the Dwayne Wade role? IT’s that or a continuation of this mess for years, and whomever decides to play on a Lakers team with Kobe as The Man.

  36. The Lakers’ have a real problem with two starters who simply do not play in the team, ball movement concept. Peace and Dwight. The ball sticks when it goes to both of them. They both force up some sort of shot, no matter how awful, every time they touch the ball. Neither ever makes a useful cut to the rim when the two most creative guards ever to play together have the ball. Both just are not mentally into what the Lakers are trying to do. Guys like Clark and Hill and Jameson are racking up easy deuces while these guys stand around away from the ball and ignore teammates when they have it.

    Depressing. All Peace has to do on offense is either make a quick move or a quick pass. When he “goes to work” I can hardly watch.

  37. wow just watched highlights of artest in rockets lakers 2009 playoff series. Hes like a completely different player on the Rockets. During the series, he was knocking down threes, step back jumpers, fadeaways. Its sad to see age take its toll on MWP.

  38. T. Rogers…

    As a back pain sufferer, I try to have empathy for Dwight. I think he has other issues, but I believe being injured is at the root of his inconsistent play. What you say about shutting him down would be a lot easier if he were under contract beyond this year and if the other bigs weren’t injured.

  39. James, Howard gets the most touches in the post in the NBA and is terribly ineffective. Howard is playing crappy ball, and it has nothing to do with distribution. Try and watch games

  40. Tom

    You are 100% correct. Is the current FO bright enough to see it also?

    Doubt it.

  41. And also James.

    Dwight is the fundamentally worst player I have seen. 50% of his touches turn into fumbles or bad passes. Other then dunks his shots are 4 foot air balls or he gets fouled. And misses.

    Current Dwight and current Metta are as bad as any two starters on offense in the NBA. Make that also the WNBA.

  42. Its pretty foreign to me, these questions of who is the “man” as I think that is pure ego bs of the worst kind and in any event, is something that can never be earned in a short time. Guys who were really successful at being the “man” (i.e. were able to win the chip as the “man”) stayed with an organization for a while before getting that designation and were generally not inserted on to teams that already had a few candidates for that role already. So somehow, I think its about sharing the mantle in a way everyone can live with. Nash is clearly the guy who will do whatever it takes. Pau was a prima donna, in my opinion to ignore that just because he was not starting he wouldn’t have a big role on the team, and that to have a coach who is not that enamoured with a post up game, somehow trying to incorporate two post players on the floor at the same time, was asking a bit too much of him, at least right away.

    The Kobe and Dwight thing has already been well disected and documented here. I think some hybrid designation could have worked off the top, if there had been more winning, as winning would have cured all the bad vibes and disgruntled looks. But that was really stunted by the Nash injury, which to me was the biggest and most untimely issue, so far. So that has created the bad vibes which were clearly present in the Boston game. There is a good article about this on espn…Dwight’s sulking is just kind of killing the team spirit, and that was never more obvious than in the Boston game.

    So somehow they need to cure that and fast. It would be great if they could just get a huge win against Phoenix and follow that up with a W against the clips. That game will be pivotal. The clips are now back in the saddle with all the injured players back and will be playing with swagger again after the blow out in Philly. Good thing is that they have a game against Houston the night before. So hopefully that helps and also results in another L for the rockets.

  43. Louis Amundson is available as a big, I just heard. He was a huge fan favorite in Phoenix. He is not super talented but is perfect for this roster, an easy going guy, who leaves it all out on the floor, kind of like a bird man type, without the tatoos, who will be great for team chemistry, will bring a lot of energy and will not needy of the ball, or a particular role. By size he is more like a 4, but still plays like a big. And he has played with Nash, and I think Dantoni. I would definitely add him as a serviceable back up big, if they can get him.

  44. Howard wont be the man as long as Kobe us around because he had no earn it, i mean who is he?He was the man on a secondary franchise, this is the Lakers. Kobe keep defyng age and still play at an excellent level. Howard dont have the leadership to be the man in a team like this. If Howard was the man,healthy and put his usual numbers he would be having a stellar season but the Lakers would be at the botton of the standings.He needs to be willing to follow and learn from 2 of the best leaders on the league today before he thinks he could be the man in LA. He need more touches sure but he need to put himself on a better position to get them, you kniw something is very wrong when MWP and Clark have more touches than him. Its up to him to fix that on the coirt if he want to be a leader.

  45. Fern, MWP and Clark don’t have more touches than Howard. Howard’s has less shot attempts doesn’t mean he has less touches. He gets more post touches than anyone one else on the Lakers and only Al Jefferson has more post Touches than Dwight in the league. Dwight is crazy inefficient with his touches. Approximately 65% of Lakers turnovers come from either trying to find Dwight in the post, or on balls fumbled by Dwight. Making matters worse, he gets fouled a lot (but poor freethrow shooter). Howard’s shot attempt totals are misleading if you don’t watch the game closely. In tact the Lakers will be better off with Howard getting less post up touches and focusing more on finishing at the rim. Unfortunately, Howard refuses to set picks and row hard.

  46. I think MWP could be coached back to his early season form. Right now he, as well as the whole Laker team, needs a little professional coaching.

    Howard is the true cancer of this LA locker room. His attitude is off-putting to most of us, but I am sure, to his more seasoned teammates, as well. (edited for trade speculation.) Who wants Howard as the face of the franchise? Not me. It’s like Dwight was related to Andrew Bynum in some cruel way.

  47. James,

    You are reading the situation backwards,as Maert put it he is simply inefficient and causes lots of TOs be it him or when trying to force-feed him.If only Dwight focused on his stronger talents..

  48. The last thing MDA thought was that in LA he not only had to manage talents, but egos instead.What I have been saying all season is that the players need to own this s#it and just ball. Some posters, despite the FO’s clearcut agenda, still manage to question the decisions. Thats your call but can’t we let the players suck it up and just play ball.

    Enough of the system, touches, pecking order and whatnot… players need to run, hustle and play defense. Work hard you stubborn millionaires!

    As for Ron, well… its been his best season since being a Laker 3 summers ago. Except that its been 10-ish games that he’s had this slump. I’ve seen him get his mind on defense and mobility to start the season till the middle part, so I don’t buy that he has “slipped” THAT much. Methinks Ron has an injury which he has somehow hid from public, just like Kobe. No point saying something if it doesn’t hurt enough to make you sit.

  49. There are two questions and, IMO, only one answer.
    1) If we had a coach like Phil, would our situation be any different? With Dwight and MWP being, essentially, black holes – not very efficient black holes, at that – I posit that our situation would be very much like it is today.
    2) With our current coaching philosophy, how would moving Dwight impact us? We would be more efficient on offense, but our defense would probably be worse.

    We do need a big body who takes defense as their primary job. It would help if this body were reasonably athletic. Are there any of these people available? – I don’t think so. If I am correct, then we really have no choice but to go with Dwight. That may cause the current year to be a complete bust, but that is pretty much what we have now. If Dwight can’t grow into Laker-type basketball we won’t be in a much worse situation than we are now.

    Therefore, let the man heal up this summer, hope he signs with us, and let’s stop pulling our hair out. The SF is our real issue this year.

  50. Craig, the Lakers defensive issues are predicated in our inability to defend the transition. When you start to point fingers, its realized that transition defense is actually the job of the 1-2-3 rather than the 4 and 5.

    My advocacy of moving Gasol (beaten to death, might be moot now) is to structure our payroll properly, but also to address our biggest need: Transition defense. IF (and thats a big IF) we are able to move some “excess” pieces for pieces of need then I’m all for it. I was advocating for the Lakers to address this issue without hurting 2014 as a backup plan. That said, I now pose the question: Would the Lakers have been better trading Pau (during the Dwight deal) for a guy that fit this? Andre Iguodala and Arron Afflalo come to mind.

  51. I’ve been a huge follower and fan of Ron Artest ever since his High School, AAU and St. John’s College days playing here in NYC. Even though it hurt to lose Ariza after winning the ‘chip in ’09, I felt that Ron was not only better, but tougher than Trevor, and because of this, would be more than an adequate replacement at SF. Personally, I feel that he was just as responsible for our title in 2010 as Kobe and Pau were. The way in which he handcuffed and locked up my man Durant and then P-Square in the finals was a testament to the type of Beast he was on, what I like to refer to as, the ‘Championship End’ of the floor.

    I mention this because to view him now, struggling the way that he’s been struggling as of late (particularly on defense) upsets me tremendously. Last year, I gave him a pass due to the lock-out shortened season, the fact that he was out of shape and, as we found out later on in the season, the back injury that he was afflicted with which didn’t allow him to work out and train. As the season progressed and his back ailment began to heal, one could see that his play began to pick up. More then likely, this was attributed to the fact that he was able to work out and subsequently, lose the excess weight that he was carrying around for the majority of the year.

    This season, he came to camp in the best shape that he’s been in in years. He was so chiseled that you could see the definition in his face. He started off the season BALLIN, particularly on the Offensive End of the court. Unfortunately, one could see that this was Fool’s Gold. It was just a matter of time before his offense tailed off. One would hope not to the extremes that it has as of late, but, that’s the reality of the situation as it stands.

    What I’m more upset about is his play on the Championship End of the floor. You see, it’s one thing if you can’t contain, let alone guard individuals such as LeBron, Durant and Melo at this point of your career. That’s understandable, because besides their offensive repertoire, they’re much younger and athletic than Ron has ever been. But when you allow a player, such as Pierce, whom you’ve for one, had past success at guarding. Secondly, is older than you are and finally, isn’t nowhere as athletic as the aforementioned three, dominate you the way he did last Thursday night on National TV, the problem becomes exasperated. All four have, at one point or the other, toyed with Ron this season. Now I know that some will say that those individuals annihilate everyone who attempts to guard them, but when you hang your hat on defense, as Ron does, it reveals a decline that, more than likely at this point of his career and with his diminished lateral movement, he won’t be able to recover from.

    Sadly, I feel that this will, and should be, Ron’s last year performing in that FB&G Uniform.

  52. I just heard a re-broadcast of Rick Fox’s comments on Dwight. Essentially said he’s not a good fit and the Lakers should move him.

    (edited for trade speculation.)

    I’d be curious if folks thought this would be a good deal should the Lakers decide that the Howard experiment is over.

  53. What you say about shutting him down would be a lot easier if he were under contract beyond this year and if the other bigs weren’t injured.
    ———-

    Good point, Kenny T.

  54. I see a few trades coming down the pipe. There are a lot of parts on this team that do not fit D’Antoni’s system.

  55. Maert i was reffering to shot attempts

  56. Leo: rick fox was spot on with most of his comments. What stuck with me was when he said Lakers fans know what championship effort looks like and Dwight can’t fool us. Nobody knows how Dwight’s back is feeling but his effort is the kind where it’s all he’s giving them because he isn’t getting his way. Best analysis of Dwight all year.

    Fern: agree howard isn’t making himself available. When Clark and Pau cut they get the ball. Dwight stands around waiting to be boxed out because he’s not getting post touches. If he flashes to the paint kobe will get him the ball.

  57. I read somewhere Dwight is whinning about teams triying to hurt his shoulder. This guy never shut ups another media storm looming…

  58. Alright…maybe I’m just a hater, but is this dunk by Griffin really that impressive? I mean- isn’t it just a double clutch dunk? Haven’t we seen a dunks that are many magnitudes greater than this?
    http://sports.yahoo.com/sportsminute

  59. Your whole conceit in still calling him Ron reflects badly on you, not him. It’s meaningless. You may say that although the guy changed his name much of his act still persists. What Laker star has an act that you find free from criticism? Look around here and you know your answer has been — not one! Singling MWP out for disrespect is just nonsensical.

  60. Braziman,
    Some of his teammates still call him Ron. Get over it. As to your second point, I run a Laker blog. I’ve focused on nearly every player at some point or another, praising and critiquing their play. It’s pretty much the point of running a site. You’ll just need to get over that too.

  61. Sorry guys, but one more link. This is Rick Fox talking about Dwight Howard. He makes a lot of sense…
    http://espn.go.com/espnradio/losangeles/play?id=8938049

  62. I’m sorry but as a Laker fan what skillset or Leadership has Howard EVER showed that warrants him being a #1 option???…dunking????…please aside from being spoon feed dunks and lay ups he will never be a #1 option on any team period. He hasn’t EARNED it. This is supposedly the future of the great Laker franchise, the ton setter here for the future???…please, all I see is when the going gets tough he shrinks mentally. This is the same guy that said the media and fans need to be more postive, GTFOH. We are the Lakers, I have too much integrity as a Laker fan to give this guy a pass. If he walks, he walks and I couldn’t care less. And don’t compare this situation to wade passing the torch to LeBron. As much as I hate LeBron he leaves it all on the court, consistent, and is the unquestioned best player in the game). I wouldn’t leave Dwight with my car keys let alone franchise. (Steps off my soap box)

  63. Just trade him already we need a young SF with dunking ability. And is pretty good at 3 point range

  64. Here is a comparison between Ariza’s last season as Lakers and MWP’s first season as Lakers:

    Metta World Peace (33.8 minutes/game)
    09-10=LAL G=77 GS=77 MPG=33.8 FG%=0.414 FGPG=9.6 3P%=0.355 FT%=0.688 OFF=1.3 DEF=3.0 RPG=4.3 APG=3.0 SPG=1.4 BPG=0.3 TO=1.57 PF=2.14 PPG=11.0

    Trevor Ariza (Adjusted to 33.8 minutes/game)
    08-09=LAL G=82 GS=20 MPG=33.8 FG%=0.460 FGPG=10 3P%=0.319 FT%=0.710 OFF=1.9 DEF=4.0 RPG=5.9 APG=2.5 SPG=2.35 BPG=0.4 TO=1.46 PF=2.80 PPG=12.3

    Ariza has substantial across-the-board better FG, FT, OFF, DEF, RPG, APG, SPG, BPG, TO, PF, PPG, and only behind MWP in 3P% and APG. IMO this is the worst replacement of the Lakers in recent history. My very biased assessment is that this is a blunder that cost the Lakers at least two additional titles.

  65. RonRon should be transitioned into being a Kurt Thomas type of player. Strong enough to guard PFs and small Cs and be a pressure release on offense that hits wide open shots. He could to that until he is 40……if his ego doesn;t get in the way.