Many people have criticized Ron Artest for his inability to blend into Phil Jackson’s offense, claiming that Ariza was a better fit for the team. While it is undoubtedly true that Ariza blended into the triangle with more ease, these pundits fail to see how much of an impact Artest has had on the team. I am under the belief that Ron Artest has been the most consistent player on the Lakers all season, and that much of the criticism is unwarranted. The Lakers did not bring him in to score 20 points a night, but to prevent the opposing team’s best player from doing just that. On the defensive end, where the Lakers historically struggle, Ron Artest has brought energy and toughness, which is exactly what the team needed.
Overall, there are several things that the Lakers need to change if they want to advance in the playoffs. However, they are not alone in this quest. Every team feels they need to tweak their game or fluctuate their rotation a little bit going into the post-season in order to maximize their potential. Just because the Lakers have struggled slightly down the stretch does not necessarily mean it is time to bring in the fire and brimstone. Remember this Lakers fans, the team is still the top seed in the Western Conference and the favorite to reach the NBA Finals, and in many cases, win it. A little bump in the road might help develop the toughness and attitude the team will need to succeed in the upcoming months.
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