Defense doesn't win championships so much as goons do.
“They’ve got a good team but they never had that goon — that defensive goon last season,’’ he said. “Someone that’s not afraid. If Ron was on the team, they would have gotten past the Pacers.’’
Bolder than Artest referring to his sibling as "Ron" instead of "Metta" was him postulating that the Knicks would have gotten past Indiana had World Peace been sporting orange and blue.
Few would disagree that New York lacked the defensive (and rebounding) punch it needed to make a legitimate run at the Miami Heat. Bearing witness to its struggles against a more physical faction like the Pacers was difficult to watch. The absence of toughness in the post (looking at you, Tyson Chandler) was even worse.
World Peace brings an air of that defensive resolve, the kind of proverbial backbone the Knicks couldn't even feign during the postseason. His acquisition makes them better, plain and simple.
To say that he would have catapulted them past the Pacers is a stretch. Unless there are a troupe of Metta World Peace clones inhabiting the Big Apple we don't know about (please God, no), he couldn't have defended Roy Hibbert, Lance Stephenson, Paul George and George Hill all at once. Just saying.
Never mind the absence of multiple doppelgangers, though, there's also his mortal limits to consider. Pushing 34, can he really have the type of impact that pushes the Knicks over the top? In an Eastern Conference that got so much better?
Artest seems to think so:
I’m not worried [he’s washed up]. It’s all about heart. The way Ron plays, he will help the Knicks out the way he plays defense and take pressure off Carmelo [Anthony], [who] won’t have to guard the best forward guy anymore. [World Peace] can guard the power forward. He held a lot of power forwards like Zach Randolph, David West and LaMarcus [Aldridge] last season way below their scoring average. He’s still very strong and has a lot of game left.
Maybe heart really does trump logic. All of New York certainly hopes so.
They also watched as the Pacers, the very team that ended their season, stole Chris Copeland and deepened their bench with acquisitions like C.J. Watson and Luis Scola.
Where will the Knicks finish in the Eastern Conference next season?
Collective sets of "yikes" appear to be in order now.
Before you go writing the Knicks off and furbishing Carmelo Anthony in Lakers purple and gold, remember that New York now has its "defensive goon."
Who needs a healthy Derrick Rose or the comfort of knowing LeBron James is still the greatest player on the planet when you have World Peace, defensive ruffian extraordinaire?
The Knicks do.
Just don't tell Metta's brother.