“To live and die with Rooon Arrrrtest.” I think that is how Tupac wanted that hook to go. He was obviously foreshadowing the 2010 NBA playoffs, whereby Laker fans either have their hands in their face in disgust or fist pumps like “The Situation” from exuberance a la the tip-in winner from game 5.
I caught the game last night with friends out in Hollywood–all Laker fans. For the entire playoffs, I have thought that Artest has been awful and I agreed with the Suns’ gameplan to basically back off of him and let him shoot. I was surprised to hear my diehard Laker fans have the same sentiment, as they are always overly protective of their “guys.” Yes, Artest got the tip-in, which is perhaps the only saving grace for him in these playoffs, but he made the bonehead play of shooting that 3 with so much time on the shotclock, and he has been a disappearing act on both ends of the floor. I question, would you rather have Ron Artest or Trevor Ariza in these playoffs?
Just by looking at the stats, it is not even a discussion. Ariza’s numbers are better in not only PPG and RPG, but way better in shooting percentage from 3’s and field goals, while not getting as many minutes per game. In addition, by watching the game, the flow of the Laker offense is better with Ariza and not Artest.
Trevor Ariza’s 2009 Playoff Stats
Ron Artest’s 2010 Playoff Stats
In defense of Artest, these playoffs are not over yet, as we are only in the conference finals. Do I think his stats will come more in line with Ariza? No. But, I do think his effectiveness could greatly be used in the Finals, especially if the Lakers face lets say the Boston Celtics. All of Artest’s worth could be on display if he locks down Paul Pierce of the Celtics. Artest’s play could very well be the X factor for the Lakers in the finals and he will be well worth the off-season move by the Lakers to pick him up.