There have been quite a few trade rumors surrounding Ron Artest lately, and although Artest has made it clear that he does not want to leave the Los Angeles Lakers (and really who could blame him) there are still some other options out there.
Nonetheless, since Toronto’s most glaring weakness is at the Small Forward position, it might be interesting to discuss the reasons why Ron Artest would be a good or bad fit for the Raptors.
In addition, this allows us to obtain a better idea of what qualities we do need and would like to have in our “Small Forward of the Future”.
Artest has been around the league for some time, as a matter of fact, he is now in his eleventh season.
That being said, he knows what he’s doing and could certainly be a good veteran presence and possible leader for this young Toronto team. He was a great leader when he played for the Houston Rockets, (once Tracy McGrady went down due to injury) especially in the playoffs.
For example, take a look at their series against the Lakers; he wasn’t amazing statistically and even though he did let his emotions get the best of him on a couple of occasions, there was fire in his eyes as he went head to head with Kobe Bryant.
Apparently, Bryant and Lakers head coach Phil Jackson saw this fire as well, and as a result Ron Artest was in Lakers uniform the following season.
Since joining the Lakers, Artest has begun his slow digression as the result of not only age but also the fact that he had a smaller role on the team which I think has caused a bit of rust.
The Lakers signed Artest primarily for his defense and on offense, as he was the third or fourth option behind Bryant, Pau Gasol, and Andrew Bynum/ Lamar Odom (depending on the night) as he struggled to comprehend Phil Jackson’s triangle offense.
In the 2009/2010 season, Artest only attempted 740 Field Goal, compared to his 1,037 attempts the year before with the Rockets.
However, playing with the Raptors, he would generally be the econd or third option on offense behind Andrea Bargnani and Demar DeRozan.
He would certainly play a much more central role with the Raptors on offense and as a result, he would be able to regain some of his youth and play more like he did with the Rockets for a good two to three seasons.
Defense has certainly been the Achilles' heel of the Raptors for a very long time.
Artest, in that department, would be able to step in and immediately solve that problem for the Raptors.
When he is motivated, Artest is still one of the best defenders in the league today.
Furthermore, he fills our void at the small forward position and would be able to shut down star forwards and some of the less speedy shooting guards in the Eastern conference and prevent them from torching the Raptors on offense.
At first glance, what you see when you look at Ron Artest is;
A. A savvy veteran who has overall experience, as well as playoff experience.
B. A top notch defender who is able to shut down star SF’s in the East Conference such as Paul Pierce and LeBron James.
C. An adequate scorer who could step up any night when Bargnani and DeRozan are struggling and lead the offensive charge.
So that’s good right? He offers three things that would go a long way in improving this Raptors team, let’s make a trade right now… Not so fast!
Yes, Artest is a smart veteran who offers a lot to this young Toronto team, however, he is not always the best role model for younger players.
The brawl at the palace is something that will always taint the way we look at Artest but that was more than half a decade ago; can’t we just move on already?
Maybe not, because this comes up just about every single time there is a discussion about a Artest trade.
That being said, the question now becomes how would his personality most likely influence the chemistry and attitude of this Toronto team?
The Raptors already have great chemistry and it would be disappointing to see Artest come in and ruin that.
But, then there is also the possibility that he could bring some big energy to this team on defense.
How would Artest be able to contribute to the Toronto offense?
He is a bit limited by his age, 31, which could impact Toronto's ability to play up tempo basketball and capitalize on fast breaks.
This has become a specialty for this team due to our many athletic players who can get up the court in no time at all.
In this regard, Artest could hurt the team a bit and may also result in him having to sit out a couple extra minutes here and there in exchange for a younger quicker player who can get up and down the court faster.
This should not be too big of a problem, though.
Artest would be able to make up for his lack of speed with his three-point shooting.
Having him on this team would help spread out the defense, which in turn would open up more scoring lanes that allow guys like DeRozan, Bayless and Leandro Barbosa more opportunities to drive to the basket.
In addition, Artest was also pretty clutch on offense in the playoffs last year.
This would help the Raptors late in the fourth quarter, which is a glaring need, considering how Toronto has had problems scoring in the fourth quarter.
Wrap it up:
The bottom line is: having Ron Artest on this Raptors teams would be a good thing in the short term, especially if the Raptors are ready to win now.
However, this is not the case.
Artest only has about two or three more quality years left in him, which means right around the time, when Toronto should begin reaping the benefits of its current “Re-tooling” process, he will no longer be around.
This is a big problem because, first of all the extra playing time we give him would take away from the opportunities for our younger guys to play and gain valuable experience.
Unless the Raptors acquire another young small forward that will follow in his footsteps for the next couple seasons, there will be no one to take over for him once he is gone and then we will essentially be back at square one.
Therefore, Artest is a great fit for a team that is ready to contend now, and only needs a small forward to really be a top team, such as the Orlando Magic, however for a team like the Raptors who are looking to build a core of young talented players he is not the best choice.
A younger version of Artest may be exactly what the Raptors need.
If Toronot could get its hands on a younger version of Ron Artest with…
1. His grit and defensive prowess, which would greatly improve our defense at the three spot as well as overall team defence.
2. His adequate offensive game, which gives us someone who could step up on days when our better players are struggling and carry some of the offensive load.
3. His three-point shooting ability, which would help spread the floor and result in more open lanes for guys like DeRozan, Bargnani, Bayless, Barbosa, etc… who are at their best when they are driving to the basket and drawing fouls.
We would certainly be in good hands!
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