They say you can never go home again, and that is especially true if you’re a professional athlete who was born and bred in the Big Apple.
But, SF Metta World Peace is looking to prove that old adage is nothing more than the musings of those downtrodden souls who didn’t cut it in their return to New York City. Despite being in the twilight of a storied and controversial career, World Peace will provide the New York Knicks with much-needed toughness and defensive versatility off the bench, and is still capable of providing an offensive lift in small spurts.
But we all know scoring isn’t what the Knicks are in desperate need of. It’s defensive toughness.
At 6-foot-7 and weighing 260 pounds, Metta can defend your average NBA small forwards and, if coach Mike Woodson continues experimenting with Carmelo Anthony as a power forward, he could compliment Melo by sliding over to defend the other teams’ power forward. That would free up Melo to guard a position that is traditionally a less strenuous slot to defend when Metta is on the floor.
Think I am overstating the physical toll that guarding power forwards might have on a player? Here’s an experiment for you. Try pushing around a 265-pound weight that is bent on camping out on the low block for three quarters, all the while carrying your team offensively. Then try to score in the fourth quarter and see how you do.
Oftentimes, Carmelo looked absolutely exhausted down the stretch during games in which he was asked to body up with bruisers like David West and Udonis Haslem last season. These people are called power forwards for a reason.
Ideally, a team would like for their leading scorer to be fresh during crunch time. Since PF Rasheed Wallace was often injured, Carmelo had been the toughest and strongest Knicks forward thus was often pressed into service as a bruiser/scorer prior to the arrival of PF Kenyon Martin — and afterwards as well.
It’s a poorly guarded secret on all levels of basketball that coaches like to “send in the goons!” to deal with the rough stuff. The Knicks had no one fitting that description for most of the 2012-13 season.
The arrival of World Peace could possibly alleviate that conundrum and allow for a possible mismatch for opposing power forwards on the offensive end as well, as most small forwards cannot keep Melo away from the basket, and most power forwards are too slow and are often reluctant to contest his shot on the perimeter.
Though Metta is no longer fleet of foot, he’s still plenty strong and his hands are as quick as ever, and he gives coach Woodson some interesting options to toy around with as well.
Ricardo Hazell is a freelance sports writer for Rant Sports. You can follow him on Twitter at NikosMightyDad or add him to your network on Google Plus.