Over the final six weeks of the season we’ll examine each player on the Lakers’ roster and discuss what their contributions will mean during the playoffs as the Lakers aim for a three-peat. We’ll cover one starter each week and then discuss the bench unit collectively. Today we’ll be looking at one of the most enigmatic player on the team, Ron Artest.
After auctioning his ring for charity last summer, Ron Ron is hoping to earn a ring that he can keep this June. The controversial and often misunderstood Artest has been pretty well behaved under Phil Jackson’s watch since joining the Lakers in 2009. He has kept his off-court antics from negatively affecting his teammates and in-game play.
A former defensive player of the year, it is no secret that Artest was brought to the team for his defensive ability. This season he’s shown lapses on both sides of the court, but he is especially horrid on the offensive end of the court when he hefts bad shots. After spending a year learning the triangle offense and hearing Phil Jackson’s voice in his head (don’t shoot Ron), he’s improved his offensive decision making.
Lately, he’s been hitting timely three point shots. But at the end of the day, Artest is on the floor because of his defense. Any offense that he contributes is bonus and usually situational (wide open threes, offensive rebound put-backs, etc.) I find myself frequently agreeing with Coach Phil’s sentiments and find myself frustrated when he bumbles a bad pass or chucks up a poor shot.
Recently, Artest has played his best basketball of the season because he has stepped up his defensive intensity. He had one of his best games in the loss against the Heat when he held LeBron James to 19 points on 7-17 shooting and zero treys. And in the win over the Mavericks, Artest showed some of his offensive skills when he posted up Jason Kidd to finish the night with 12 points on a very efficient 5 of 8 from the field.