LA Lakers: What Can We Expect from Metta World Peace aka Ron Artest in 2011-12?

Howard RubenContributor ISeptember 29, 2011

SOUTHAMPTON, NY - JULY 16:  Ron Artest visits the AXE Lounge in Southampton at AXE Lounge on July 16, 2011 in Southampton, New York.  (Photo by Eugene Gologursky/Getty Images for Axe)
Eugene Gologursky/Getty Images

The NBA player originally known as Ron Artest has officially and legally become Metta World Peace. A judge has ruled as such, and the ESPN.com website that shows NBA players and their stats has made the change as well. So it must be official: Bye-bye, Ron-Ron.

Metta has been very busy during the summer lockout, but not with basketball. He’s tried stand-up comedy (not so much), Dancing with the Stars (not so much), the aforementioned name change and his charitable work through his nonprofit, Xcel University.

If there is one thing you can honestly say about Metta World Peace, it is that he’s entertaining. He also has a big heart and wants to help those less fortunate and those with mental health issues. 

Metta sold his one and only world championship ring in 2010 through an online raffle and raised well over $600,000 in the process to help support mental health awareness.

The question, though, is what can we expect from World Peace if and when the NBA season starts up? His production and minutes dropped dramatically last year for the Lakers, and there is no indication yet that this will change.

Metta’s minutes (29.4 per game) were the fewest for him in a decade. He made less than 40 percent of his shots from the field, including 37 percent from beyond the arc.

Once a scoring threat (between 2003-09 Ron Artest averaged between 16.9 and 24.6 points per game), World Peace is now seen mostly as a defender whose outside shot has become near nonexistent.

World Peace averaged just 8.5 points per game last year for the Lakers, by far the lowest average of his career and the only time he’s been under 10 points. The year before, the team’s championship run, was not much better, as he averaged 11 PPG in a scheme that called for him to shoot less and defend more.

Make no mistake—the Lakers signed World Peace for his defense, and he remains one of the best in the league when he is focused, even at 32 (November 13). However, they also need him to occasionally put the ball in the hole from outside as well as in the paint. In that department, Metta has been inconsistent his two years in L.A., and there is nothing to indicate that will change.

On a team where you have several players in front of Metta as the main offensive threats (Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, Lamar Odom and Andrew Bynum), it is increasingly difficult for him to get his touches, but when he does, World Peace needs to make shots.

One good thing in this whole scenario is that World Peace played under then-assistant coach Mike Brown when he was in Indiana with the Pacers. Metta thrived as a defensive stalwart under Brown, so one would only assume he’s happy to be reunited with him as the new coach for the Lakers.

The key to Metta’s (too bad we can’t call him Ron-Ron anymore) season boils down to conditioning and passion. How hungry is he for another title run? When World Peace puts his mind to it, he is one tough player to play against. His energy can be infectious.

If Metta is not focused and lets his outside world infiltrate what he’s trying to accomplish on the court, then he and the Lakers may not be long for each other. Mike Brown is a no-nonsense type of guy and will want his troops ready to go by the start of a new season.

Metta World Peace will be pushed for playing time by Matt Barnes, Derrick Caracter and Devin Ebanks. Let’s see how much he really wants it.