It needed to happen. Everyone wanted it to happen. It happened. The man formerly known as Ron Artest, Metta World Peace, is now a New York Knickerbocker. Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! reported first that the Knicks had reached a 2 year agreement with World Peace, and it has been reported by others that the second year of the deal is a player option. New York used the second half of their mid-level exception (the other half used on Pablo Prigioni) to sign World Peace. Make no mistake, World Peace is not the player he once was, but he’s still an excellent fit for the Knicks.
The best part of this signing is the lineup versatility MWP brings to the table. In addition to playing the 3, he can play the 4 in super small lineups sans Carmelo Anthony. World Peace played some small-ball 4 in Mike D’Antoni’s offense last season, so he has experience playing different positions. He’s also a near-perfect fit next to Anthony – something the Knicks didn’t totally have last season.
Defensively, he can guard 4s that Anthony doesn’t want to, as well as most 3s. According to Synergy, opposing post up players scored just 0.75 points per possession against MWP. In an era where most traditional 4s are going by the wayside, the 260 lb World Peace will be just fine defending bigger guys. On the wing, he can’t pester the elite guys like he used to, but he’s more than serviceable against most the other guys in the league. The Knicks love switching on screens, and he’s versatile enough to fit into that scheme. Last season, the Lakers were a full 4 points per 100 possessions better defensively when World Peace was on the floor. At age 33, he’s not the defensive savant that he once was, but he’s still a net positive on that end of the floor.
Offensively, he’ll do just fine as a floor spacer in the corners. He shot 19.7% of his shots last season from the corner three, hitting 37.4% from the left corner and 36.1% out of the right. Assuming the Knicks do what they should, keeping the small-ball lineup and running spread pick and roll, World Peace should get a ton of open corner threes – much like the shots Ronnie Brewer was getting earlier in the season. He shot 35% on spot ups last season, not great, but serviceable when you factor in the two-way nature of his game.
From day 1, Metta World Peace should be a starter at small forward. Again, he’s big and versatile enough to guard 4s, thus Woodson should have no reason to supplant Anthony at the 4 against bigger teams. I suspect this signing means Anthony stays at power forward – something that had been in question prior to the signing. It’ll be interesting to see what happens with Bargnani and Stoudemire as it looks like both guys will be coming off the bench, but I digress.