If Mike Brown is content on continuing the Metta World Peace sixth man experiment then he owes it to his team to let Devin Ebanks inherit the starting job. After just two preseason games I’ve seen all I need to determine Ebanks is the best option at small forward.
First things first. Ebanks looks improved in all areas of his game but the real issue relates more so to what the other options are.
Matt Barnes looks as if the years are finally taking their toll. His knee injury has slowed his roll. Suddenly all that feisty and athletic energy has become nothing more than hot air. In the second preseason game Barnes showed what he will contribute most to this team – flagrant fouls. His temper has finally taken over as Barnes’ game continues to devolve into something meant more for the Pistons of the early 90s than the new era Showtime under Mike Brown.
Simply put Barnes’ best days are behind him. He’s no longer the threat on the perimeter be it on defense or offense nor is he a finisher in transition. But I know somebody who is becoming all those things…
Ebanks is slowing coming into his own as a Trevor Ariza type. Maybe you remember him from the Lakers’ title run back in ’09. Ebanks is built like Ariza with long arms and athletic quicks. Now Ebanks is by no means the athlete Trevor is but he can finish with flare and his outside shot is growing into a nice mid-range game as well.
About the only other option for the Lakers would be Luke Walton. Gerald Green can’t be considered a part of this argument as he still needs more coaching than would be necessary for a team with title hopes. Which is about the only reason why Walton gets any consideration at this point.
Luke’s best days were over long ago. His contract has become an albatross of sorts for the Lakers. While Luke can still be relied upon for valuable contributions in brief moments he is by no means worthy of major PT. Quite frankly Walton is better served remaining in the collegiate coaching ranks.
All signs point to Ebanks becoming more involved under Brown than he ever was under Phil Jackson. With World Peace trying to find his way off the bench it is time to let Ebanks earn his stripes with the starting five.
This is not to say that Devin deserves the lion’s share of the minutes at SF. Metta still has the experience so he should be given more run until otherwise is proven. However now is the time to start thinking about the future of the franchise. We don’t yet know what Ebanks will be like going forward. Brown owes it to himself to find out. With World Peace we’ve been down that road before and know exactly how it ends.