The Lakers are not playing against the Rockets until March 27 but I think it's about time we check in on the players that were basically traded for each other: Ron Artest and Trevor Ariza.
Ron has been getting mixed reviews in L.A. He's been exactly as advertised for me. I didn't expect him to score too much as the fourth or fifth offensive option for the top-heavy Lakers team. It's like why do they keep saying, "Oh, this is a breakthrough game for Ron Artest!" Do they really expect him to score 20 points a game around guys like Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum, and Lamar Odom? Really? He brought defense to a team that needed it and he did. For a team that's not really known for defense, the Lakers are #8 in points allowed, #5 in lowest field goal percentage allowed, #1 in 3-pt field goal percentage allowed, and #1 in defensive efficiency. And most of that had to do with Ron Artest. Plus it was revealed earlier in the season that he wasn't 100 percent as he couldn't move as well with his feet. Now he's getting healthier (witness the job he did against Carmelo Anthony last weekend) and showed why he was Defensive Player of the Year five years ago (six steals against Denver).
Has he shot well? Overall, not really (42.1 percent)... but he has been hitting from 3 (39 percent), which is what he's really asked to do more in the offense. As for his porous shot selection in the past? It hasn't been bad this year. In fact, he's been encouraged to shoot a little bit more. His main statistics aren't the greatest (11.6 points, 4.5 rebounds, 3.1 assists, 1.2 steals) but what did you guys really expect? He's the fourth or fifth option on this team. Plus when he HAS to take over the offense (which would be rare on a Laker team), he'll do it. There were times when he would score 10 early points in a game when Kobe didn't have it going. I mean, sorry if he can't match his Sacramento or Houston numbers.
What's even more important for Los Angeles? He's gone through the year with little incident. Let's hope it stays that way.
Trevor Ariza got out of the gate fast. He was tabbed as the number one option early in the season for Houston. Ariza responded with games of 33 and 28 points. But as the season wore on, it seemed as if it became too much for Ariza. He has shot really badly this season (38.3 percent overall and only 31.6 for three) and his scoring average (was at the twenties earlier this season) has plummeted to 15.4 points. For a guy that takes fifteen shots a game, that's not exactly a model for efficiency. He's still averaging 1.7 steals and he's still an above-average defender but he's been pretty disappointing as a "#1 option" for the Rockets. Well, he's not exactly that anymore. Aaron Brooks averages almost 20 points per game for Houston (I thought HE was going to have the breakout season this year). And with Kevin Martin now on the team, Ariza will probably go back to being a third or fourth option. So, yeah, it hasn't exactly been an easy transition for Trevor Ariza.
No disrespect to Trevor (I like him as a player... hope he gets well soon from his hip injury) but tell me who would you rather have at this point? I already made my choice last summer.
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