Metta World Peace has been working out with the Los Angeles Lakers this offseason, partly because he’s trying to get signed, but mostly because he’s acting as a mentor to some of the young bucks on the team — particularly Julius Randle, the team’s lottery pick from 2014 who hasn’t played a full regular-season NBA game yet.
Randle is perhaps the biggest X-factor in the Lakers’ future, and Metta knows it. In a fantastic interview with Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News, World Peace declares himself a “Laker fan” and lays it out like a classic homer:
When did you start working out at the Lakers’ practice facility?
World Peace: “I started maybe a month and a half ago. I forget when. I got with Julius a little bit and talked with him a little bit. Now I just watch him play a lot. I see how he is evolving. I see how he is learning little things that will make the Lakers better. If he can continue to learn the little things, you’ll see the Lakers in the playoffs.”
World Peace: “Absolutely. If he and a couple of other players continue to learn the little things, this year people will be surprised and they say, ‘Wow, the Lakers are in the playoffs at a pretty decent seed.’ But it’s going to take hard work and intelligence.”
Since he’s squarely in the Lakers’ corner (and might be on their bench), it’s not a surprising tone for him to take. Every team but the 76ers is talking themselves into their playoff chances right about now. Randle is, in terms of experience, virtually as much of a rookie as D’Angelo Russell, so it’s impossible to say just how good he can be. Metta seems like he’s settled in nicely to his elder statesman role, and what he says he’s been working on with Randle are the kind of skills and instincts that will allow him to succeed with his physical skill set (strength and athleticism in an undersized-for-a-power-forward frame).
It’s a great, in-depth conversation about what World Peace values on the basketball court, and how he sees himself at this point in his career. Read it in full here.
(Via Los Angeles Daily News)