Lakers report card: Metta World Peace starts strong, ends with a whimper

This is the fifth in a series grading the Lakers’ efforts on their 2012-13 season.

Player: Metta World Peace, Lakers forward

How he performed: 12.4 points on 40.3 percent shooting, 5 rebounds and 1.6 steals in 33.7 minutes per game in the regular season; 6 points on 25 percent shooting, 3.7 rebounds and .7 steals in 28 minutes per game in the playoffs.

The Good: World Peace posted his strongest numbers in his four seasons with the Lakers and also became one of their most consistent players mostly because of his offseason conditioning. That effort mostly entailed improving his diet (lots of protein, nuts, vegatables and little sugar) and frequent offseason workouts. As a result, World Peace looked a lot more comfortable attacking the basket. The stronger conditioning gave him better shooting balance, allowing him to shoot at least 50 percent from three-point range in 25 games. And if even if none of the efforts ever looked pretty, but World Peace also managed to throw down some dunks.

Such a work ethic also earned plenty of respect within the Lakers, as he was no longer seen as just the unpredictable goofball. So much that Kobe Bryant encouraged World Peace to take on a larger leadership role. World Peace appeared in a strong position to carry such a responsibility since he consistently provided energy and always supported his teammates. The results hardly translated, but the Lakers also respected World Peace’s ability to return to the lineup after only missing seven games following surgery to repair torn cartilage in his left knee.

The Bad:World Peace’s strong play immediately evaporated, however, once he suffered a torn lateral meniscus tear in his left knee in the Lakers’ loss March 25 to the Golden State Warriors. He self-admittedly returned too early into the lineup, showing noticeable struggles with his shooting accuracy, mobility and energy level. Basically everything.

But some of World Peace’s weaknesses went beyond an injury limiting him. Even when he was healthy, World Peace showed that his improved conditioning came at the expense of lacking enough strength to guard the NBA’s elite players. World Peace did very little in making things stopping elite players, such as Miami’s LeBron James (35.5 points per game on 67.4 percent shooting) and Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant (34.75 points on 48.9 percent shooting). Although he held New York’s Carmelo Anthony on Christmas Day to a 2 of 11 clip, World Peace couldn’t guard Anthony in New York when he busted open with 30 points two weeks earlier.

As has been the case in his four seasons with the Lakers, World Peace also demonstrated shaky shot selection. Far too often, World Peace opted for a three-pointer early in the shot clock instead of finding the open man. In related news, World Peace shot at least 20 percent or worse from three-point range in 26 games.

Grade: C+ World Peace’s effort ensured mostly consistent performances despite ongoing weaknesses in shot selection. But that mindset couldn’t overcome a serious injury that he admittedly wasn’t ready physically to handle.

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Follow L.A. Daily News Lakers beat writer Mark Medina on Twitter. E-mail him at mark.medina@dailynews.com

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