Will Ron Artest's Offense Improve After a Year in the L.A. Lakers' Triangle?

Hadarii JonesSenior Writer ISeptember 25, 2010

LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 17:  Ron Artest #37 of the Los Angeles Lakers look on in Game Seven of the 2010 NBA Finals against the Boston Celtics at Staples Center on June 17, 2010 in Los Angeles, California.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Most Los Angeles Lakers fans would agree that forward Ron Artest exceeded most expectations in helping the Lakers capture their second consecutive NBA championship, and the first of his career.

There were some concerns voiced about Artest signing with the Lakers, and it's easy to understand the apprehension considering Artest's quirky nature and unpredictable manner.

Not to mention the reputation Artest garnered from the now-infamous brawl in Detroit, which helped foster his bad boy image.

Those concerns turned out to be a moot issue, because even though Artest was still a sound bite waiting to happen, he also was the consummate pro on the court.

Artest brought energy, intensity, and a rough edge to the Lakers' defensive unit, and he turned out to be the perfect remedy for a defense searching for an identity.

Artest may have been the Lakers' most consistent player on the defensive end of the floor, but the intricacies of the triangle offense were a little harder for Artest to decipher.

Sometimes Artest looked lost on the offensive end, and that led to problems with spacing on the court and a tendency to settle for ill-advised shots from the perimeter.

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Artest did improve as the season progressed, but his 11.0 points per game average was lower than the 15.5 points he has averaged throughout his career.

Of course most of that can be explained by the presence of Artest's elite teammates Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol, and Artest's shooting percentages last season actually mirrored his career numbers.

Artest shot 41 percent from the field and 35 percent from the three-point line last season, and that is nearly identical to his career numbers of 42 percent and 34 percent respectively.

Artest did have his moments on the offensive end, and none were bigger than his performances in the Western Conference Finals against Phoenix, and in the NBA Finals against Boston.

Most Lakers' fans will never forget Artest's rebound and put back of an errant Bryant shot to win Game 5 against Phoenix, but his performance in Game 6 was much more impressive.

Artest scored 25 points in Game 6, while shooting 4-of-7 from three-point range, in what turned out to be the deciding game of the series.

Boston limited Artest to 10.6 points per game in the Finals, but in critical Games 6 and 7, Artest responded with 15 points and 20 points respectively.

None were bigger than his calm three-pointer in Game 7, which helped create a little distance in the contest and was ultimately pivotal in the outcome of the series.

Artest saved his best offensive performances for when it mattered the most for the Lakers, and a full season in the triangle should help Artest become more efficient on a consistent basis.

Artest has always been an above-average offensive player, but that aspect of his game was always over-shadowed by his dominance on the defensive end.

Size and strength gives Artest an advantage over most opponents in the post, and although he shoots entirely too much from the perimeter, he does have the ability to get hot in spurts.

Coach Jackson has admitted that Artest's shot selection is sometimes confounding, but that was likely more a result of his unfamiliarity with the triangle concept.

Artest should be more comfortable within the confines of the Lakers' offense next season, and a better understanding of the scheme will likely result in less indecision on his part.

The Lakers didn't need much from Artest last season on the offensive end, but the task of three-peating will likely require a little more in the scoring department from Artest.

One of the Lakers' perceived weaknesses is the lack of a third scoring option behind Bryant and Gasol, and Artest definitely has the talent to assume that role.

Lakers fans were given a glimpse during the playoffs of how vital Artest could be when he was comfortable in the offense.

After a full season in the triangle, Artest should be even better.

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