Now that NBA commissioner David Stern has unleashed a seven-game suspension to Los Angeles Lakers forward Metta World Peace for his elbow shot to the head of Oklahoma City’s James Harden, it’s time for the Lakers to move on and focus on the postseason.
It's bad timing for the Lakers as World Peace had been playing his best basketball of the season throughout the month of April. In the Lakers' past 10 games, World Peace has averaged 15.9 points per game, showing plenty of signs of the player of past years.
Now not only do the Lakers have to regroup, but several players must step up and attempt to replace the production that the Lakers will be missing with World Peace watching in street clothes.
Here’s a look at a few Lakers who need to perform well during the next seven games.
It’s possible that Brown could throw Barnes into the starting lineup, but I like leaving him on the bench. The energy Barnes brings off the bench can’t be replaced with this thin Lakers team.
Who needs to step up the most in MWP's absence?
Although he’s dealing with a sprained ankle, Barnes is going to have to come up huge for the Lakers. Through the past five games he’s averaged 10.0 PPG on 7.6 shots from the floor. Barnes can stand to be more aggressive and possibly with more minutes he will have the chance to up his production somewhat.
Gasol has averaged a solid 19.5 PPG and 10.3 RPG throughout the month of April, but Gasol can always stand to be more aggressive.
He’s taken 14.1 shots per game on the season, which is more than his career average, but it’s not just the shot attempts, it’s from where he’s taking them. An aggressive Gasol is a very good Gasol and someone has to get the 11.4 shot attempts that World Peace has averaged since April.
Gasol is a guy the Lakers want to get going in the playoffs and continue to ride him.
After replacing World Peace when he got ejected on Sunday, Ebanks responded with eight points, five rebounds, two steals and a blocked shot while defending Kevin Durant.
He should get major minutes in the Lakers' regular season finale against Sacramento and if he can produce anything similar to what the Lakers have gotten from World Peace as of late, it will be huge.
Sessions can stand to be a little more aggressive offensively. His scoring, 10.1 PPG over the last 10 games could increase, but Sessions could make a bigger impact moving the ball as he’s only averaged 5.1 APG during that same time span.
Who knows where Andrew Bynum’s head is entering the playoffs and who knows whether or not Mike Brown will decide to bench him late in games again, but what Hill did against Oklahoma City was very encouraging.
With World Peace suspended and Barnes nursing a sprained ankle, someone needs to step up and produce off the bench. Hill won’t give you the 14 points and 15 rebounds that he did on Sunday on a nightly basis, but he can bring energy and be active at both ends of the floor.
The Lakers are very thin and probably are the last team that could afford to have a starter suspended entering the playoffs, but if they can get something positive from Hill it will be a blessing.