How Ron Artest Became the Los Angeles Lakers’ First Line of Defense

Los Angeles Laker forward Ron Artest has finally become comfortable in his role as defensive enforcer, and evidence of this can be found in his performances against recent opponents.

Artest has managed to hold Rudy Gay, Carmelo Anthony, Paul Pierce, and Danny Granger well beneath their scoring averages, displaying the tough, physical brand of defense he was previously known for.

Better yet, his recent tenacity and enthusiasm on defense has resulted in big steals and game-changing moments for the Lakers, who have been criticized for their lack of focus on the defensive end.

Laker fans have been patiently waiting for Artest to resemble the player who came to be feared throughout the NBA, and it seems, finally, their patience is being rewarded, as his play has added another element to the team.

Previously Artest had garnered mixed results as he struggled to assimilate to the Laker scheme and the nuances and quirks of the triangle offense.

He had moments of brilliance, but they were frequently followed by moments of perplexing decision-making and the inability to show good judgement in his shot selection.

It was apparent Artest was pressing in his attempts to become a productive member of his team, and ironically many of his troubles may have stemmed from over-thinking situations instead of relying on his instincts.

His value as a staunch defensive presence cannot be overstated, though, because when he excels on that end of the floor, he opens up the game for his teammates, and instills a distinct edge to the team.

When Artest is able to effectively guard the opposition's top scorer it allows Kobe Bryant to concentrate on his own assignment, instead of constantly switching to provide help.

This also enables Bryant to be more efficient on the offensive end, because he conserves energy that would have been spent chasing around the opposition's top scorer o...

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