L.A. Lakers: Is Ron Artest’s Defense Worth Another Season with the Lakers?

I was one of the people who viewed forward Ron Artest as a definite upgrade over Trevor Ariza when the Los Angeles Lakers acquired him in the summer of 2009.

Artest never could find an offensive groove in his first regular season with the Lakers, but, as always, his defense was stellar and Artest provided the Lakers with a degree of toughness that had been missing in their previous two NBA Finals campaigns.

The Lakers benefited from Artest's hard-nosed, physical defensive style, and in the 2010 NBA Playoffs he even discovered a semblance of an offensive game and had huge shots in both the Western Conference Finals and the NBA Finals.

It turns out that for the very short term Artest was just the rough tonic that the "soft" Lakers needed as he was very instrumental to the Lakers championship in 2010. But now in the summer of 2011 it appears that Artest may have reached an early crossroads with the Lakers.

Artest didn't turn any heads with his 11.0 scoring average during the 2009-10 season, but he did turn a few with his 8.5 average during the 2010-11 regular season because it was the lowest of his entire career.

If anything, Artest looked even more lost offensively in his second season season in Phil Jackson's triangle offense and that may not have mattered to the Lakers except for the fact that Artest's defense seemed to slip as well.

Artest has always been a superior defender because he has great basketball instincts, good defensive footwork and he employs a style that is dependent on sticking as close as physically possible to his adversary.

Besides making it difficult to get an open look at the basket, Artest's style is also physically intimidating as he is big enough, strong enough and crazy enough to make an opponent think twice about using the same tactics.

In the 2010 postseason Artest shined on the defensive end when the Lakers needed him the most—particu...

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