Metta World Peace is a presence that looms large in any room, on any team. How can he not? He’s got a massive 6’7″, 260 lb. frame, a vocal personality, and a stand-out sense of humor. Yet, of all of the Knicks’ offseason acquisitions, World Peace somehow seems like the least-mentioned, the least-analyzed member. There was tons of focus on the Andrea Bargnani trade and how he’ll fit, similar emphasis on Beno Udrih’s ability to let the Knicks use two-point-guard back-courts; yet the World Peace addition almost fell by the wayside.
Through preseason, he’s been solid, if not a little bit quiet, but Marc Berman of the New York Post gives a little insight as to how World Peace is helping the Knicks:
Metta World Peace stripped the ball from [Carmelo Anthony] at midcourt during the Knicks’ intrasquad scrimmage Sunday at Columbia University, chased after the loose ball and finished with a fast-break slam dunk. The packed crowd at Levien Gymnasium howled. Anthony shook his head.
It wasn’t a good feeling, but Anthony will be better for it. Anthony is facing a defensive beast in practice every day of training camp. How can he not be better for it?
World Peace’s value will be seen on many levels this season and his goal is to make sure Anthony is the Knicks’ “leading guy.’’
Berman then quotes World Peace who said one of his jobs is to make everyone better and tougher. Metta won’t lead the Knicks in many categories this season — he’s not an offensive force, a pure shooter, a great rebounder, or even the defensive stalwart he used to be, but he’s undoubtedly one of the toughest, if not the toughest Knick, a hard-nosed wing player with tons of experience.
In Carmelo Anthony’s case, having that type of player to push him around every day in practice can only be good. As the article notes, having World Peace defending ‘Melo in practice is a bit different than Chris Copeland from last year. Anthony is undoubtedly the leader of this team, the centerpiece, but even the top guys need to get pushed around a little bit to give them an edge. This is especially true for Anthony, who, historically, can kind of set his game on cruise control, perhaps not giving maximum effort. If World Peace is challenging Anthony each practice, making him work hard, it will likely translate over to games.
Similarly, that type of push can affect a whole team. If World Peace is making Anthony work hard, the rest of the team will follow suit. Cliche as it is, hard work separates the good teams from the great teams. Executing the offense, cutting hard, screening hard; fighting on defense, getting over screens, sprinting on close-outs — it requires persistent effort. If the Knicks can establish that tone early in the year, they’ll be all the better for it.
If the signing of Metta World Peace was discussed prior to the season it was how his personality can be a detriment to a team, how he’s not an efficient offensive player, how he’s lost a step on defense. Well there’s a reason he’s lasted this long in the NBA, and this is an example.
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