By Brian Faith, Knicks Fan Since ‘93
After 14 years, six teams and one championship ring, Metta World Peace (formerly known as Ron Artest) is finally coming home. The standout at St. John’s has seen it all throughout his career and now he’s hoping he can help bring a championship to New York.
World Peace was waived via the amnesty clause by the Los Angeles Lakers late last week, but it didn’t take long for Knicks General Manager Glen Grunwald to sign what he hopes is one of the final pieces of the championship puzzle. World Peace will bring spot-up shooting and toughness to the floor. Most importantly though, he gives Coach Mike Woodson a wing stopper on defense.
Let’s take a look at what we can expect from World Peace on both ends of the floor next season. All stats courtesy of NBA.com/stats.
World Peace on Offense
World Peace brings one especially important skill to the Knicks offense: shooting. He is more than capable of hitting spot-up jumpers, particularly from the corners. Last season, Metta converted just under 37% of his three-point tries from the corners. He attempted around two per game for the space-deprived Lakers; a number that should climb within the Knicks' system.
Most of World Peace’s three-pointers came from above the break last season (248 attempts above the break, 163 from corners), but expect those numbers to flip with New York. Raymond Felton and Iman Shumpert could compose the starting backcourt -- both capable long-range threats who like to shoot it from the wings. Felton took 212 above-the-break three-pointers, converting just over 37%, and Shumpert hit nearly 39% of his 72 above-the-break attempts.
World Peace’s role will be to space the floor for Carmelo Anthony, spot up in the corners, and make timely duck-in cuts for easy finishes at the basket. He will also be the beneficiary of Felton-Tyson Chandler pick-and-rolls. When defenses bend to prevent lobs to Chandler, Felton will be able to kick out to an open Metta World Peace in the weak side corner. If Metta can keep defenses honest with his shooting from the corners, it will open up a lot of options in the middle of the court for the Knicks.
World Peace on Defense
While World Peace’s shooting will be an important cog in the Knicks offense, the reason Glen Grunwald went out and got him was his defense. While he’s not the same wing stopper he was earlier in his career, Metta brings a unique defensive versatility to the Knicks.
The Knicks offense was at its most potent when Carmelo Anthony played power forward, but in the playoffs the Pacers found ways to disrupt some things. Indiana pounded the ball in the post to David West and Roy Hibbert, challenging the Knicks to either stick Anthony on West, or switch to a more conventional lineup, often featuring Kenyon Martin. On defense, Anthony was asked to bang with West and Tyler Hansbrough, as a rotating cast of wings tried to slow down Paul George. Ultimately, Indiana wore down New York on both ends of the court.
Metta World Peace effectively solves these types of match up problems for the Knicks. He has the ability to contain traditional small forwards and small-ball power forwards. Last season, opposing small forwards had a league-average PER of 15.0 when matched up again World Peace, per 82games.com. That’s saying something considering the depth of talent at that position league-wide.
The Eastern Conference is flush with these types of players - George, LeBron James, Josh Smith, Paul Pierce, Luol Deng, Rudy Gay, and Jeff Green all fit the bill. The Knicks will now be able to unleash Iman Shumpert on opposing teams’ guards, while letting World Peace take on the best wing players. It also keeps Anthony from having to exhaust himself on defense chasing around some of the world’s top scorers.
Metta’s other role on defense will be to take on the more traditional power forwards in the league, thus allowing the Knicks to stay small on offense without sacrificing on the defensive end. Opposing power forwards had a PER of just 13.7 when going against World Peace last season, according to 82games.com.
In the Pacers series, Carmelo was left with the unenviable task of trying to slow down the bigger and stronger West. Next time around, World Peace will bang with West, Shumpert will match up with Paul George and Anthony will be able to key on a weaker Pacers player. The same will hold true against Carlos Boozer, Al Horford, and Kevin Garnett.
Metta World Peace’s impact will mostly be most visible on the defensive end. He’ll take on the best wing players and power forwards in the game night after night and allow Carmelo Anthony to save his energy for the offensive end.
On the other side of the ball, World Peace’s impact won’t be as overt, but he’ll contribute with timely shooting and much needed floor spacing. Most importantly, the Knicks will be able to play small-ball on offense without being forced into brutal mismatches defensively. Hopefully, this will be enough to propel the Knicks through the Eastern Conference playoffs next season.
Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images