Lakers forward Metta World Peace goes for the ball against the Oklahoma… (Wally Skalij / Los Angeles…)
Over and over again, Lakers forward Metta World Peace kept bullying his way into the post.
He moved quickly. He positioned himself using his solid frame. He caught the entry passes and threw a medicine ball in the basket with purpose. Throughout the whole routine, Lakers assistant coach Darvin Ham instructed World Peace on how to better angle himself in the post.
World Peace's workout last week at the Lakers' practice facility in El Segundo appeared nothing more than what you'd normally see just before training camp starts. But that still marks an accomplishment for World Peace.
Last year, he reported to camp weighing 268 pounds and with a nerve problem in his back. Because the Lakers' training staff couldn't work with the players during the NBA lockout, World Peace feared any outside medical help or additional practice could aggravate his injury. Hence, he spent training camp and the beginning of the NBA season working his way back into shape after the staff treated his injury.
That won't be an issue for the 2012-13 campaign.
World Peace has said he's held his weight to around 255 pounds during the off-season. When I watched him work out in July at UCLA and last week at the Lakers' facility, he appeared more mobile.
Of course, that doesn't guarantee World Peace will have a miraculous season.
After averaging a career-low 7.7 points on 39.4% shooting last season, World Peace will have to prove he can hit outside shots with consistency. And with the Lakers featuring a star-studded lineup of Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard, Steve Nash and Pau Gasol, he will somehow have to carve out an offensive niche by scoring off hustle points.
He'll also have to prevent what may be a diminished offensive role from detracting his focus, and ensure he's in control of his emotions -- something he failed to do when he gave Oklahoma City guard James Harden a concussion after delivering a vicious elbow.
On the other hand, World Peace's improved physical condition should help in a lot of areas.
He appears to be in a better position to make elite scorers such as LeBron James, Kevin Durant and Carmelo Anthony work harder for their points. They may still win the one-on-one matchups, but it shouldn't be as lopsided as in the past.
World Peace will likely have more spring in his legs when he, for better or worse, launches shots from three-point range. If he has opportunities to work in the post, he should have an easier time using his quickness and strength to set himself up for easy baskets.
And don't be surprised if World Peace still manages to throw down a few dunks again too.
How this will play out remains to be seen. World Peace, after all, excels at being unpredictable.
But if this latest snapshot is any indication, World Peace's strong conditioning this off-season should have the Lakers feeling optimistic that their eccentric forward will give them plenty to celebrate when he steps on the court.