Tuesday night in the Los Angeles Lakers close win over the Charlotte Bobcats, Mike D’Antoni made some tweaks to his rotation to accommodate Pau Gasol’s return. Metta World Peace was moved into a reserve role, with Devin Ebanks taking Metta’s customary starting small forward position. D’Antoni then subbed World Peace in for Gasol, with Gasol rotating in to spell Dwight Howard at center. Apparently this is the rotation D’Antoni will be utilizing for the foreseeable future:
“We have to be able to change our team,” said D’Antoni. “For us to have a different team, a different look, Metta has to play the four. If he starts at the three, then once I get him to the four, it’s too many minutes for him. I think Metta will be very productive as a four, and our team will be very productive.
“You have Dwight, you have a 7-footer in there, so we can go small. I think it puts Jodie Meeks out there, it (gives) Kobe more area to operate. Once we get Nash back, we’ll have pick and rolls… there’s a lot of area (there).”
World Peace at the four gives the Lakers a different look and more versatility than plugging Gasol or Jordan Hill there full-time. World Peace may only be 6’7”, but at 250 lbs and with his strength, MWP can more than hold his own against some of the larger power forwards.
MWP has also proven to be a consistent threat from three-point land, currently ranking sixth the NBA in three-point shots (57) and shooting .370 from long distance on the season. MWP would be the type of “stretch four” that has thrived in D’Antoni’s system with the Phoenix Suns and New York Knicks, to a lesser extent. World Peace could play a role similar to that of a hybrid Shawn Marion/Boris Diaw mix.
Once Steve Nash returns, this is how the Lakers rotation will look, per Lakers reporter Mike Trudell courtesy of NBA.com:
Starters – Nash, Meeks, Kobe Bryant, Gasol, Dwight Howard
Reserves – Chris Duhon, Darius Morris, World Peace
Antawn Jamison, Jordan Hill and Ebanks appear to be the odd men out in this new rotation, barring any significant injuries or foul trouble.
It may be a little early to shorten the rotation to just eight players, but desperate times call for desperate measures and the Lakers can’t afford to fall any lower in the standings. Generally 50 wins equals a playoff berth in the Western Conference, and the 12-14 Lakers will need to go at least 38-18 over the remaining 56 games to reach the 50-win plateau.
Any change that yields positive results is welcomed for Lakers fans. Moving Metta to the four just might do the trick.