Should Los Angeles Lakers Start Antawn Jamison or Metta World Peace?

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Should Los Angeles Lakers Start Antawn Jamison or Metta World Peace?

For the sake of discussion (and sanity), let's assume for a moment that the Los Angeles Lakers will begin the 2012-13 NBA season as currently constituted, that (more specifically) there is no imminent Dwight Howard trade in the works.

Because, at this point in time, nobody really knows if/when/how it's going to go down, assuming Orlando Magic GM Rob Hennigan doesn't get cold feet for the umpteenth time.

So, rather than speculate as to the validity of conflicting reports from unnamed "sources" (read: agents), why don't we concern ourselves with an even more trivial matter—the battle for playing time between the newly-signed Antawn Jamison and the nearly-amnesty'd Metta World Peace?

Both are loosely considered to be wing players, with Jamison demonstrating a bit more positional versatility between small forward and power forward, and The Basketball Player Formerly Known as Ron Artest slotting in comfortably at the "three."

Skill-wise, Jamison and MWP aren't quite polar opposites, but they're pretty darn close. Jamison might best be described as a finesse scorer whose herky-jerky repertoire of mid-range shots and floaters off the wrong foot, while unconventional and at times unsightly, are surprisingly effective in the pursuit of buckets.

On the other end of the floor, Jamison's most noteworthy defensive attribute is that he doesn't play much of it.

MWP, meanwhile, is a four-time All-Defensive selection and former NBA Defensive Player of the Year who, though a step or two (or three) slower than he was in his heyday, still has the strength, the toughness and the sheer bulk to disrupt the league's biggest and baddest wings. He's shown an ability to score in the past, but if his three years with the Lakers are any indication, those days may be long gone.

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MWP's also about three and a half years Jamison's junior, though Father Time appears to have been much kinder to 'Twan's game.

That doesn't necessarily make Jamison the better fit to start for Mike Brown, though. His first five is already replete with scorers and needy ball-users, between Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum.

If anything, that unit needs a player who'd be content to operate without the ball on offense, perhaps even floating to the perimeter to shoot the occasional three-ball.

More importantly, with Nash and an aging Kobe on the perimeter and a loafing Bynum in the middle, LA's starting five would need someone of MWP's caliber to help mask his teammates' deficiencies on defense. MWP's no longer a bona fide ace on that end of the floor, to be sure, but he can still more than hold his own.

Jamison, on the other hand, would be more of the same of what the Lakers already have in their starting five—ball-dominant scoring on offense and an aging, fleeting presence on defense.

In the second unit, though, Jamison would be an enormous asset. He'd be the go-to scorer for LA's bench mob, with Steve Blake running the show, Devin Ebanks (assuming he re-signs) providing a dose of athleticism and defense on the perimeter and Jordan Hill doing the dirty work down low.

Not perfect, by any means, but far better than the horrendous hodgepodge the Lakers had coming off the bench last season.

Then again, if LA's entire roster is reshuffled in a blockbuster deal for Dwight Howard in the days to come, none of this conjecture is likely to matter.

Such are the current realities of Antawn Jamison and Metta World Peace, two former All-Stars and All-NBA performers who've aged to the point of chasing jewelry with the Purple and Gold.

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