There are a few things right about Scott Howard-Cooper's contrarian effort on the Ron Artest trade, in which Scoop basically tells the ways the Kings will be worse next season. But there's also plenty wrong.
If Ron Artest was the best defender on the 2007-08 Kings, John Salmons and Francisco Garcia were #2 and 3. Guess who is taking Ron's place in the rotation? John Salmons. And who will take John's spot? Francisco Garcia. So really, the defensive impact of losing Ron is the marginal difference between Ron and John and between John and 'Cisco. That's not nearly as serious as "Kings loses former DPOY."
In the new NBA, guards and bigs who can create from 17-feet are the stars. How many real, potent post presences are left? Dwight Howard, Tim Duncan, Elton Brand, Yao Ming? Even Yao has been taken away from the basket to open up lanes for Tracy McGrady, and Brand and Duncan have murderous 15-footers. Just because every NBA team of the '80s and '90s had a true post presence doesn't mean it's necessary today.
The key on offense is to have players who score efficiently and get easier shots for their teammates. Artest had a True Shooting percentage of 53.5%. Among rotation players, only Quincy Douby and 15-game Mike Bibby were worse. Being the mythical "post presence" didn't help Artest get more efficient scoring opportunities, did it?
Post players also kick out to the open shooter off the double team. Artest's assist numbers are only very slightly better than those for Salmons. Brad Miller had more assists per minute than Artest, as did all three point guards who started games.
Also, from Howard-Cooper:
After the trade is official, defenses will be able to fan out even more on the perimeter and not have to be concerned with getting hurt inside. Bad news for Kevin Martin.
Scott Howard-Cooper, I'd like you to meet Spencer Hawes and Jason Thompson. Spencer, Jason, this is Scott.
I'm not saying either youngster will be a dominant inside presence now or ever. But the Kings are addressing the need for size. They have spent subsequent lottery picks on a center and a power forward. This is a young team. It is building for the future. I imagine part of that plan is getting these guys the ball on the block every once in a while. Just a hunch.
There's no reason for NBA writers to still get rebounding wrong. SH-C writes:
The Kings finished 26th in rebounding percentage. Brad Miller led the team, Mikki Moore was second, Artest was third at 5.8, a solid contribution for a small forward.
Scoop uses rebounding percentage, hurray! Good.
... but then he uses that insightful statistic "rebounds per game" to judge the players.
Guess what? We can do "rebounding percentages" for players, too! And Ron Artest was not the third best rebounder on the team.
The list, best to worst:
Shelden Williams, Brad Miller, Spencer Hawes, Mikki Moore, Ron Artest, John Salmons, Francisco Garcia, Kevin Martin, Beno Udrih, Quincy Douby. This list excludes Justin Williams, Kenny Thomas, Shareef Abdur-Rahim, and Dahntay Jones, all of whom would also finish above Artest.
Scoop is also ignoring positions and positional expectations.
In January, I put together a fairly thorough study on Ron's impact on the Kings. A part of that looked at defensive rebounding, which is really the weakness here. Artest is worse than the average small forward at rebounding (as of those statistics -- I don't recall Ron getting better as the season moved along). Salmons was also worse.
Donte' Greene, as a small forward, projects to be an excellent rebounder -- much better than Artest. It probably deserves a mention in a passage about how Artest's rebounding will be missed, considering the Kings, you know, traded Artest for Greene.
I don't doubt the Kings could be worse this season because of losing Artest. But the impact really isn't that heavy. The offense should get better. The defense could get a bit worse. The team, as a whole, is treading water. Let's not overblow things.