Can LA Lakers Make 2013 NBA Playoffs Without Metta World Peace?

In a Los Angeles Lakers season that has seen more than its share of dramatic ups and downs, the latest injury to Metta World Peace could, surprisingly, be the reason LA ultimately falls short of a postseason berth.

According to the Orange County Register's Kevin Ding:

It really shouldn't be the case that the absence of the Lakers' fifth-most heralded starter could have such a profound impact on the team's fate, but the combination of poor timing and the glaring lack of adequate backups makes MWP's injury profoundly significant.

The timing aspect is obvious—the Lakers have 11 games left to hang on to the one-game advantage they have over the struggling Utah Jazz and the surprisingly still-relevant Dallas Mavericks. Any significant injury at this juncture means more than it otherwise would.

Just as critically, though, LA simply doesn't have a passable substitute for the collective contributions that World Peace provides.

The numbers show MWP to be a 34.7 percent three-point shooter and a highly suspect decision maker on offense. On the season, he has registered just 106 assists against 98 turnovers. But mediocre shooting and sketchy ball-handling aside, World Peace does stretch the floor with a more accurate stroke from the corners.

Plus, he has a knack for procuring a sneaky steal or hauling in an offensive board at just the right moment.

On defense, he's nowhere near the lockdown stopper he once was, but MWP still often handles the opposing team's best perimeter threat so Kobe Bryant can save his legs.

The players likely to absorb the minutes freed up by MWP's injury all leave the Lakers highly vulnerable in an area in which World Peace made the team at least adequate. That might seem like damning with faint praise, but it's the best way to explain how World Peace's absence potentially hurts the Lakers a little bit in a lot of areas.

It's really tempting to simpl...

About the Author