World Peace adding extra duties at backup SG

SALT LAKE CITY -- For Lakers fans clamoring for benched sharpshooter Jodie Meeks to get some burn behind Kobe Bryant as the backup shooting guard, try this one on for size.

Lakers coach Mike Brown is experimenting with Metta World Peace, a guy who has shot less than 40 percent from the field each of the last two seasons, to help fill that role.

"I just felt I that trying to bring another starter back with the second unit would help us out, so that's all I'm doing in a nutshell," Brown said after Lakers shootaround Wednesday as they prepared to play the Utah Jazz. "I like to stay big also."

This isn't a demotion for World Peace. He'll continue to start at small forward. It's actually more of a promotion. Brown has been so impressed by what he's seen out of World Peace in the early going that he wants to give him more time on the court.

World Peace averaged just 26.7 minutes per game last season after he came into camp severely out of shape following the NBA lockout. He was also dealing with a complicated lower-back issue.

He's up to 34.5 minutes so far this season and it's paid off in his production as his points (7.7 to 9.8 per game), rebounds (3.4 to 4.3) assists (2.2 to 3.3) and steals (1.1 to 1.8) are all up, as is his shooting accuracy (39.4 to 44.1 percent).

"He’s in shape," Brown said. "I think he can play those types of minutes -- the low to mid-30s -- on any given night."

World Peace had a breakout game against the Detroit Pistons, putting up 18 points on 7-of-11 shooting in the Lakers' first win of the season.

"Against Detroit he was just the recipient of other guys getting paid attention to," Brown said. "He got swing (pass), (followed by) swing (pass) 3s or kickout 3s. That's something he'll be able to continue to do and when he's at the two, we may post him some. It just takes time for us and for him to get a feel of what he can and should do out on the floor."

While Brown detailed how World Peace can be ideally used on offense as a spot-up shooter with the starters and a featured post player with the substitutes, Kobe Bryant said World Peace's defensive presence is what can really bolster the bench group.

"Metta's intensity really changes the momentum of the game when he's able to get out there and get deflections and get steals," Bryant said. "It brings a physicality to that second unit."

Bryant said World Peace is in the best shape of his life "by far" -- comparable to his days with the Indiana Pacers -- and that his energy has increased.

"He can play harder for longer stretches," Bryant said.

Which means there will be shorter stretches available for Meeks and the current backup shooting guard, Devin Ebanks, for the foreseeable future.

Dave McMenamin covers the Lakers for ESPNLosAngeles.com. Follow him on Twitter.