Metta World Peace Rounding Into Form

A year ago, Metta World Peace conceded he was out of shape. His shot was off, he seemed to be a step slow defensively and his entire game was affected.

“The lockout hurt me a lot, because last season going into the playoffs I had a nerve issue in my back,” he explained during his exit interview in May. “Once the lockout happened I wasn’t able to address it so all I could do was rest. It took me 2-3 months to get in shape.”

During the first half of last season, World Peace shot only 33.5 percent from the field and 23.9 percent from the 3-point line, while averaging just 4.9 points.

After he was able to lose weight and get himself back into game shape, though, those numbers jumped. In the second half of the season, World Peace shot 43 percent from the field, 33.1 percent from the 3-point line and averaged 10.7 points. On the defensive end, he looked quicker, more nimble and displayed that prowess he’s been known for his entire career.

Going into this season, the small forward knew what he needed to do to continue playing at that level.

“I gotta come back just how I left off,” he said last May. “I was playing at a high level and need to be able to stay there.”

Fast forward to now and the former St. John’s product appears to be performing at that same level fans saw during the latter half of last season. He’s noticeably slimmer and he’s quicker on both offense and defense.

“He’s been in the best shape that I’ve seen him since I’ve been here,” Kobe noted. “I haven’t seen him in this kind of shape since I faced him when he was in Indiana. He’s really in tip-top condition.”

The results are showing, too.

Through the team’s first three preseason games, he’s shooting 50 percent from the field and the 3-point line, while chipping in almost 12 points. And he’s doing all of it in less than 24 minutes per contest. World Peace noted how much of a difference it feels to have lost 17 pounds in the offseason.

“I feel good that I can get to the basket,” said World Peace, who notched 13 points, grabbed four rebounds and shot 3-of-4 from the 3-point line in the team’s third preseason game. “I can push it without getting tired. I can go right a little bit more this year and (the opponent) doesn’t really know what’s going on defense. And I can help my team more.”

With World Peace in peak condition and playing at a high level, fans can expect to see some of the old Ron Artest — a more dynamic player on both ends of the court.