Last night the Los Angeles Lakers started point guard Ramon Sessions for the first time since his acquisition in a trade with Cleveland. The result was just as everyone thought. A win. The young point guard finished with 20 points, 11 assists and six rebounds. So it's clear the Lakers have found their point guard, and the other starting positions are set as well, except for one: the 3. To begin the season, Devin Ebanks started at this position, and since then it has alternated between Matt Barnes and Metta World Peace.
Both of these players have been less than consistent all season, but it seems as though now the trade deadline has passed, both men are comfortable and playing to their full potential.
But should Metta be starting? Throughout the year, Metta has started 12 more games than Matt Barnes. Their averages are roughly the same, whether they were starting or coming off the bench. Metta's are slightly higher, because he plays seven minutes more, on average, when he starts. Ever since the addition of Sessions, and the passing of the trade deadline, Matt Barnes has been able to showcase his talents.
Previously, Barnes averaged about seven points a game, and his post-deadline average is about 11 points per game. This can be attributed to several things like the security that he'll be on the team, playing with a faster, more athletic point guard or to show that he's worth a contract extension next season. Metta's averages have remained about the same, increasing only slightly.
However, there are some things that can't be measured by statistics. It's no secret that in his previous life, Ron Artest was one of the most aggressive people you could meet on the court, or in the stands. He still shows flashbacks to that aggressiveness, but it seems as though he feels responsible to uphold his new name of Metta World Peace and be less aggressive than he used to. As Mike Brown said earlier in the year, if he were a stat's guy, Metta wouldn't be playing. That being said, he's still more defensively skillful than Matt Barnes.
Who Should Start at Forward?
Barnes, however, is more athletic and can shoot better on the fly. He's a cutter who moves to get high-percentage shots at the rim. This upbeat style of play helps energize the other players on the court. It also seems as though Metta is more content with filling in the sixth-man role, and coming up big when defense is an issue, and occasionally when a big three is needed too. Barnes has also acknowledged that he knows he's a role player as well, but his style of play says differently.
From the beginning of the season, World Peace intended to play, and has embraced the sixth-man position. World Peace said publicly:
It's going to be good. I get a chance to come in and have more responsibility, which is good. It's going to make the other team off balance. Kobe, Pau and Bynum are going to be out and you're still going to have to double-team me. You can't leave me alone on the block by myself.
Mike Brown has come up with a good combination of rotating the two, but there's a solution that could provide a consistent starter at the forward position. Start Barnes, whose shooting and energy will get the team going right away, then end with Metta, who is aggressive enough to help close out games and get the win.