Lakers Positional Analysis: Small Forward
SCORING EFFICIENCY (LeBron 6.9)
World Peace 4.8
-The Scoring Efficiencies of LA's Small Forwards reveal one of the huge problems: LA does not get efficient scoring from its wing players other than Kobe Bryant. Eyenga's number comes in incredibly limited minutes (on the season, including time in Cleveland, the number fell to 4.8), so its projectibility is questionable at best. Metta World Peace was pretty bad (largely because he got off to an atrocious shooting start). Barnes's was better, but it's the kind of number that can be tolerated only if his other contributions are considerable. His outside shooting was very bad, but he also blew many layups in transition--the shots he needs to hit to maintain offensive value. Ebanks seems to be developing a decent jumper, but his whole offensive game needs work. Luke Walton, playing in very limited minutes, was amazingly (but not surprisingly) ineffective.
PASSING EFFICIENCY (LeBron 3.6)
World Peace 2.7
-The Lakers have a trio of people who do a decent job of handing out assists and not turning it over too much. Barnes's number is not great, but it's in the neighorhood of good SFs like Durant (2.8) and Carmelo Anthony (3.0). World Peace is a touch below him; PAFF is Walton's strong suit, and he did a decent job at it. Eyenga was not good in limited time and even worse over the course of the full season (1.9 cumulative). And well below that was Devin Ebanks's number. As passive as LA's Small Forwards are, this number should be a stroing point.
HUSTLE EFFICIENCY (LeBron 3.0)
World Peace 2.8
-Apparently LA's Small Forwards are all hustle players. Their numbers are good, competitive with the best at the position. All of their numbers are noticeably better than Kobe's 2.4 and Pierce's 2.3, and even outshine Durant's 2.6, and Melo's 2.7. This is clearly the strength of the position for the Lakers: all of the players who saw significant minutes are hustle players who can deflect balls and clean the offensive glass well for their position.
World Peace 61
-Compare these numbers to some of the elites at the position: LeBron James 113, Durant 99, Kobe Bryant 97, Carmelo Anthony 95, Paul Pierce 89. Don't bother looking at Eyenga's number. It fell to 51 over the course of the season. This means that Barnes posted the only reasonably decent number on offense. Metta's number is not good, and Ebanks's performance was even worse. Again, the strength of this position is NOT scoring though. Metta World Peace is one of the best wing defenders in the game. Matt Barnes is a competent wing defender who can guard the best wings for stretches. Even Devin Ebanks took the challenge of guarding Durant...and did well. The fact is, though, that the talent is seriously lacking on the offensive side of the court.
To the delight of many Lakers fans, Luke Walton is gone. His health was a huge question mark, and his lack of athleticism made his contributions at best a mixed bag. Metta World Peace is under contract for at least one more season ($7.3M next season and then a Player Option in 2013/2014). Matt Barnes is a Free Agent who accepted a humble fee for two years' service in Los Angeles ($1.9M last season). Christian Eyenga is under contract at $1.2M; the next season includes a Team Option at $2.1M. Devin Ebanks earned $740k this season; he is a Free Agent.
There are certainly some questions for the Lakers to answer regarding Small Forward. On one hand, when Metta World Peace got into shape, he was actually very good; he was perhaps the Lakers' second best player in the series against OKC. At the same time, he isn't getting any younger, and he won't likely redevelop a consistent offensive game. While Matt Barnes might be a cheap option at SF, whether he will return is likely complicated by what will happen with Devin Ebanks. Paying World Peace over $7M means that the Lakers cannot afford to pay two backups (say, Barnes and Ebanks) more than $2M per season each. That would be a waste of cash. If Ebanks is willing to return for a salary close to Barnes's this season, LA probably accepts that (barring some massive trade). With Eyenga's salary included, the Lakers would still be paying in the neighborhood of $11M per season. Ebanks's upside is really interesting, so if the Lakers can lock him up for a few years at a reasonable salary, he could be the Ariza type player LA did not hold onto. Looking outside the team for help, there are likely going to be some Free Agents with strong offensive games.
POTENTIAL FREE AGENTS (for Comparison)
Nick Batum 75 (5.8 SCOFF, 2.9 HUFF)
Geral Wallace 72 (5.4 SCOFF, 2.6 PAFF)
Vince Carter 70 (5.4 SCOFF, 2.8 PAFF)
Michael Beasley 69 (5.8 SCOFF)
Tracy McGrady 67 (3.3 PAFF)
Josh Howard 62 (5.3 SCOFF)
Mickael Pietrus 50