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Hollinger Insider: Artest Vs Ariza

Discussion in 'Houston Rockets: Game Action & Roster Moves' started by spaceage808, Jun 2, 2010.

  1. spaceage808

    spaceage808 Member

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    http://insider.espn.go.com/nba/play...?columnist=hollinger_john&page=PERDiem-100602

    lock if posted

    Now that the Lakers are back in the NBA Finals, it shines a brighter light than ever on one of the few key decisions L.A. had to make since winning the title 12 months ago: The de facto trade of Trevor Ariza for Ron Artest.



    Such a swap has become extremely rare in NBA circles, because these days most deals are done based on money and cap considerations. Not this one. While technically this was two separate free-agent signings (Ariza to the Rockets, followed by Artest to the Lakers), in practice, this was a classic example of the so-called "challenge trade" -- L.A. thought Artest was better for them than Ariza, and Houston thought the exact opposite in its case.



    Most fans found Houston's logic more compelling, as Ariza was the younger of the two and had completed an outstanding 2009 playoffs. Indeed, the Rockets are likely to come out ahead over the long term -- both players have five-year deals, and by the last year, Ariza will still be in his prime at 29, while Artest will be long past his at 34.




    NBA Today: 6/2
    Play PodcastRyen Russillo previews the NBA Finals and talks to Trevor Ariza about replacing Ron Artest in Houston. Plus, Dallas' Caron Butler shares his thoughts on this summer's free agency.

    More Podcasts »



    However, L.A.'s window is different than the Rockets'. The Lakers are in win-now mode while they have Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol in their prime, and are willing to deal with the fallout later if Artest declines with age. Additionally, the Lakers are more capable than any other team of swallowing the tail end of a bad deal because they rake in so much revenue at the gate.



    And to win now, as I've maintained since this first went down in July, Artest was the better play. We'll get to the reasons in a minute, but first I want to point out that L.A. proved it learned two important lessons in pulling the trigger on Artest that other champions would do well to follow.



    The first was to avoid complacency, something the Lakers have been guilty of in the past despite their success. Most notably, the Lakers' unwillingness to upgrade an aging roster around the dominant core of Shaquille O'Neal and Bryant should have cost them the 2002 championship, and finally did in 2003; it took them six years to scale the mountain again. Pulling the trigger on Artest was a sign they wouldn't sit idly again while Rome burned.



    The other lesson they learned was not to confuse good fortune with a good plan. Ariza excelled as a spot-up shooter playing off Bryant and Gasol in the 2009 playoffs, but that was over the course of 23 games. The much larger sample of games in the rest of Ariza's career indicated he wasn't nearly as good a shooter as he'd been in the postseason. Ariza made 47.6 percent of his 3s during the 2009 playoffs but only 29.9 percent during the rest of his career up until that point. It didn't take a rocket scientist to figure out which trend was more likely to prevail in the future. Not surprisingly, Ariza shot 33.4 percent on 3s for Houston this season.



    In fact, while Lakers fans spent half the year lamenting the swap, Ariza went on to have a worse season in Houston than Artest had in 2008-09, posting a miserable 48.8 true shooting percentage while averaging 14.9 points a game. In comparison, Artest had a 51.1 TS percentage in his last season in Houston -- while shooting 39.9 percent on 3s -- and averaged 17.1 points in similar playing time.



    Of interest to the Lakers is that Artest was better as a spot-up shooter, too. He hit 35.5 percent this past season, which wasn't great but it did make him a more reliable floor-spacer than the man he replaced. And despite all the criticism of Artest's ability to run the triangle -- which, at least partly, is a result of the hocus-pocus spell Phil Jackson has conducted on the media that now has people thinking it requires several advanced degrees from Princeton to run this offense correctly -- he wasn't much different from Ariza in terms of overall production. Artest's player efficiency rating was slightly worse than Ariza's because, as usual, he shot quite poorly on 2s (45.3 percent), but primarily his numbers were down because he wasn't shooting nearly as often.



    So it was ironic that the perception of Artest's season turned at least in part as a result of a crazy shot. Artest shot a quick 3 with 56 seconds left in Game 5 of the Western Conference finals against Phoenix with his team up by three points, when L.A. could have run 20 seconds more off the clock. I'm not sure it would have mattered -- Phoenix was likely to have two more possessions regardless of what Artest did, and that's exactly how many it ended up with -- and in that sense his choice, while suboptimal, was not as hurtful a gaffe as many have written.



    In fact, the past two games against Phoenix ended up providing some of the greatest value from the deal. Artest made the winning shot in Game 5 against Phoenix, of course, on a fairly spectacular flip at the buzzer after charging in to rebound Kobe's airball. And in the finale, it was Artest's strong first half -- 17 of his season-high 25 points came before halftime -- that set the stage for Kobe's heroics down the stretch. All told, he averaged a solid 14.3 points on 45.9 percent shooting against the Suns.




    [+] EnlargeBrian Babineau/NBAE/Getty Images
    Ron Artest's lockdown defense on Paul Pierce could be the difference against the Celtics in the Finals.


    Artest was also crucial for the Lakers' escaping the first round against Oklahoma City. Even though he struggled offensively, he played good defense on Kevin Durant. With Artest harassing him, the Thunder's 6-foot-10 star forward shot just 35.0 percent in the series, scored five points fewer than his regular-season average and made nearly four turnovers a game.



    It's here we see why the Lakers wanted him so much and why he might be crucial again in the Finals. The Lakers' most glaring weakness entering the season was matching up against big small forwards such as LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony, and while L.A. won't end up facing either the Cavs or the Nuggets this postseason, they'll still end up with two key series against oversized 3s.



    Durant was the first, but now comes the biggest test -- a matchup against Boston's Paul Pierce in the Finals. Two years ago, Pierce bedeviled the Lakers in the Finals, storming to MVP honors by averaging 21.8 points and 6.3 assists while earning 53 free throw attempts in six games. However, Pierce was working against lesser opposition -- the likes of Vladimir Radmanovic, Luke Walton and occasionally Bryant. Ariza played only 35 minutes that entire series, nearly half of which came in the blowouts in Games 2 and 6, and one might argue that his presence would have improved things, too. But Artest is an upgrade to the next degree.



    Even when the Lakers weren't matched up against the LeBrons and Melos, Artest made an impact. Relative to the league, L.A's defensive results improved slightly overall, from 2.9 points per 100 possessions better than the average a year ago to 3.1 points better this year, and the difference was greatest with Artest on the court. The Lakers gave up 4.5 points per 100 possessions less with him on the court, according to 82games.com, making him L.A.'s most indispensable defender.



    And Pierce? In two games against the Lakers this season, Artest held him completely in check. The final tally was 13.0 points, 2.5 assists and only 4 free throw attempts per game and 40 percent shooting.



    It will be up to Artest to keep Pierce's production in that range over the next two weeks, and it won't be easy given how well Pierce has played to this point in the postseason. If Artest succeeds, however, he'll walk away with his first championship ring … and the Lakers' oft-criticized decision to swap out Ariza for Artest will have been vindicated.
     
  2. crash5179

    crash5179 Contributing Member

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    Ooops! I fell asleep reading that. :eek: Maybe I'll try again tonight if I can't sleep.
     
  3. FFz

    FFz Member

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    tl:dr version

    Artest better choice for win now. Proof: He guarded artest pretty well in 2 games this season. And did well vs Durant.
     
  4. BackNthDay

    BackNthDay Member

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    It would have been relevant if the compare Ariza playoff's when the won a championship to what Artest is doing now. They are basically leaving him open and saying we don't believe u can make that shot consistently and he hasn't.

    I still like a young Ariza over a crazy Artest as Jordan (I mean Kobe) starts to decline. Did I say Jordan... Kobe is cold blooded black mamba killing machine.

    If Artest holds pierce under 18 pts a game then LA wins, as long as Kobe stops Rondo.
     
  5. Classic

    Classic Member

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    Ya, Ya. What about Ariza's usage rate? He was getting way more burn and shots than he should have at the beginning of the year. Make him the 5th option on offense and he is a lot more efficient as seen in last years playoffs and after our acquisition of Kevin Martin. Ariza is what he is and that is a complementary role player. He was obviously forced into a role which did not suit him. That was painfully obvious. LA can have Artest. I'll take Ariza as a 5th option on this squad the next 5 years over the aging Artest.
     
  6. baller4life315

    baller4life315 Contributing Member

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    This Artest > Ariza stuff is to be expected after the type of season Trevor had. Not only that but if/when the Lakers win the Finals again this year, Artest's muscle on Pierce is going to have a lot to do with it.

    So really, in the short term "win now" moves generally look the best and this case is no different. The Lakers probably would have still gotten this far had they still had Trevor too. Regardless, both sides moved in different directions with clearly different goals. Let's just hope Trevor's post-trade improvement and long term potential as a key contributor stays on course. If it does, we'll be good in the long run.
     
  7. Someguy1229

    Someguy1229 Member

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    Artest guarded Artest?

    That explains why Ron can't hit a shot in the playoffs, it all makes sense now.
     
  8. pippendagimp

    pippendagimp Member

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    Artest's D is ridiculously overrated. How come Hollinger doesn't cite Brandon Roy's playoff numberz vs. RonRon from last year? Artest gambles every other possession and therefore relies on a big frontcourt at his back cleaning things up for him. Problem is that unlike Durant, once Pierce gets into the paint 1) he can make the interior pass and 2) his frontcourt can actually finish inside.

    On offense, he's really effective 1on1 in the post but I've yet to see him used there this Playoffs.

    In any case, Ariza's will be much better fit with Yao.
     
  9. RudyTBag

    RudyTBag Contributing Member
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    It was good for both sides...

    I'm glad we rid ourselves of the knuckleheads though...
     
  10. MisterPink

    MisterPink Member

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    I see what you're saying, but Hollinger is talking about Artest's D on oversized 3's. It seems to me that the quicker players are a tougher matchup for Artest; he is more in his element when guarding bigger players. I am still surprised at the way Durant played.
     
  11. Easy

    Easy Boban Only Fan
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    I am surprised that this piece is written by Hollinger and has no in-depth statistical analysis.

    It would have been a lot more compelling had he showed how Ariza was shooting AFTER the Rockets got a true high volume scorer like Kevin Martin. He is really comparing apple with oranges.

    Offensively Artest the Laker is not much better than Ariza the Laker (even counting Ariza's regular season production). And Artest the Rocket was not any better than Ariza the Rocket.

    Defensively, he makes a good argument about the Lakers needing Artest to guard big wing players like LeBron and Melo. But the Lakers didn't play these two. So it remains a speculation. The only elite wing Artest played in the playoffs was Durant. But Durant is hardly as strong as LeBron and Melo. There is no evidence given that Ariza would not have been as effective defensively against Durant.

    The only remaining proof is Pierce. We'll see how Artest does against the Celtics.
     
    1 person likes this.
  12. Naija Texan

    Naija Texan Member

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    Can't really compare the numbers.

    Ariza doesn't have a huge talents like Bryant or even Yao of the season before that to divert most of everyone's attention. Brooks, Scola and later Martin later started to get the most attention, but a lot of early offense flowed toward Ariza to see if he had a shot at being a SG.

    Artest is just playing 3rd or 4th option to the Kobe and Gasol love connection.
     
  13. napalm06

    napalm06 Huge Flopping Fan

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    Wow (... i'm admitting) Clutchfans did just about as well as Hollinger in analyzing a case.

    In order to avoid being redundant, I will direct you to Easy's post above ^^
     
  14. meh

    meh Contributing Member

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    A player's D can be overrated AND good at the same time. Yes, Artest is no longer the DPOY candidate like he used to be. But he's still a physical defender whom the refs give a lot of leeway because of reputation. He's still a better defender vs more physical SFs than Ariza. Ariza is more of a passing lane player and more finesse defender.

    I agree though, that his defense against Pierce could decide the outcome of the series.
     
  15. Raven

    Raven Member

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    How about we let Artest go and don't sign Ariza? I call that option number three, and option number three looks pretty good. Still, Ariza was ask to shoulder too much. Let's see how he fares when the Rockets have Yao back and maybe even a second star.

    .
     
  16. sks123

    sks123 Member

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    The whole article is flawed because it is comparing Artest (playing with Yao) and Ariza without Yao. I think Artest would have stunk it up if he was with us this year, definitley much more than Ariza who really improved when Speed Racer came...
     
  17. UTAllTheWay

    UTAllTheWay Member

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    First off, I certainly agree with the guy that said Artest's defense is overrated, but honestly, the Lakers could not ask for a better SF going into this NBA Finals. I would struggle to find a better defender in the league for Paul Pierce than Ron Artest. If Ariza was the one that was supposed to guard Pierce in this series, Pierce would probably have a field day.

    Anyways, it's not a big shock that the Lakers win the argument with the "win now mentality". The Lakers are good enough to win with Artest or Ariza... so obviously when they get Artest and expect to "win now", they are probably going to hit the mark. Meanwhile, Houston picked up Ariza hoping he would learn how to become a decent scoring threat, and they missed the mark.

    Regardless of what side you're evaluating from, it really wasn't a risky move for either team. The Lakers knew they could win with Artest or Ariza, and the Rockets knew that if Ariza couldn't become a scoring threat, he'd be just fine as a #4 or 5 option.
     
  18. Nolocke

    Nolocke Member

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    Don't want either one. LA can have Ariza back and keep Artest.
     
  19. pippendagimp

    pippendagimp Member

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    I really expect Pierce to get inside Ron's head this series. Pierce (along with teammate KG) is one of the league's biggest trash talkers and there's already a history b/t Pierce/Artest.

    And Ron has shown that when he decides to stray away from the gameplan, can't nobody bring him back to sanity. Just like Kobe got into his head last year, a few cheap shots and cheap words by Pierce/KG and RonRon will assuredly lose focus on both ends of the court.
     
  20. Easy

    Easy Boban Only Fan
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    It really comes down to how the Lakers fair against Boston. The Lakers are good enough to beat anyone with either one of the two guys. So Artest doesn't give them much of an edge over Ariza. The only advantage Artest has is his physicality against Boston's physical style.

    I still don't think it's a smart move to sign Artest to such a long contract.
     

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