Is Metta World Peace the Ultimate X-Factor for L.A. Lakers?

Training camps have started around the league. For the Lakers, there are two dominant themes that everyone is discussing.

First, is the fantastic foursome of Steve Nash, Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and Dwight Howard. These four are the new Mt. Rushmore of starting lineups and are being hailed as a collection of talent rarely (if ever) really seen.

Second, is the implementation of the Princeton Offense and how these players can adapt to a new scheme under head coach Mike Brown. Getting everyone on the same page and up to speed in a system that no one has ever played is seen as a major hurdle to the Lakers' success in 2012-13.

But in discussing both of these themes, you quickly notice that the player not being mentioned is Metta World Peace. The man formerly known as Ron begins the season as an afterthought. He is the fifth Beatle that everyone knows is there but isn't paying much attention to.

The fact is, however, that Metta is in a position to impact the Lakers in a big way. All he needs to do is rediscover the form he's shown at different parts of his Laker career. Then the guy that no one seems to be discussing will be front and center the way he was after playing one of his best games in that fateful Game 7 versus the Celtics back in 2010.

And it starts on defense. 

Metta must return to playing the type of all-world D that he smothered opponents with when he first became a Laker. In that inaugural season (and into his second campaign), he chased opponents around screens, pressured them well beyond the three-point line, and was a major disruptor to offensive sets through sheer tenacity. His combination of anticipation, quick hands and brute strength were simply too much for many of the league's perimeter threats.

Coming into the 2012-13 season, he needs to play up to that level more often—a level he didn't reach frequently enough in 2011-12.

The great pa...

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