clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Artest as Power Forward

Most of John Hollinger's player projections are up (no Kevin Martin or Francisco Garcia yet), and he's a snip of what he says about Ron Artest:

Artest seemed at his best last year when he played power forward in smallball lineups. The arrangement allowed him to take bigger payers off the dribble at will, while his size was rarely a problem at the other end because he's so strong. With the league seeming to go smaller every year, we might see this arrangement more often.

Ron-Ron is such a role-driven player it just might work. Eric Musselman told him they needed him to be a rebounder: He rebounded 25% better than he ever had before. At least in theory, it makes sense he'd hang out near the three-point line while there are two bigs in the game with him. But when you specifically charge him with manning the post, it's a task I'm sure he'd have no problem attacking.

The problem: Even if he rebounds like last year, he'd still be a worse rebounding option than Shareef Abdur-Rahim, Kenny Thomas, Brad Miller and Mikki Moore. One possible solution: Play him alongside Justin Williams. Artest can't defend the Yaos or Shaqs of the league. Luckily, there aren't many Yaos or Shaqs. You can get away with putting Ron on the best opposing post player against most teams. Williams isn't a good man defender, but loves to come off the weak side to block or alter shots. But his big boon -- he's a tremendous rebounder. As long as you have a backcourt defender (John Salmons or Francisco Garcia) and two scorers/creators on the floor as well, I think you could get some positive miles out of that lineup.

Another solution: pair Ron-Ron with Miller in the frontcourt, and run three guards (Mike Bibby, Martin, either Garcia or Salmons) out there. It does the same job of locking Artest in the post, especially considering Miller's favored place at the top of the key or at the elbow, while providing an extra creator to draw away a big defender. (Williams doesn't exactly need to be swarmed away from the ball.) And (depending on how the conditioning program has altered Miller's game) it can give you some defensive help against bigger teams.

Again, it won't work on every team -- Houston and San Antonio especially; Ron isn't manning up on Yao or Duncan and getting away with it any time this century. But so few teams have a remarkable post player or two above-average bigs that you can get away with running out undersized defenders. And making sure Ron-Ron knows he's needed in the post offense -- where he'll draw a fair share of doubles -- helps in multiple ways: He's a deadly scorer down there, he loves to draw fouls and we'd prefer he stop creating from 25 feet out.