Should Artest Think Like McKey?

by Jeff Tzucker
by Conrad Brunner

Thursday, June 5, 2003

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Conrad Brunner

Q. Apparently, Ron Artest thinks his offensive role should be expanded. But isn't he a guy who should ideally take a Derrick McKey-like attitude and just concentrate on defense and rebounding while playing a strictly complimentary offensive role (in other words, 6-10 shots a game vs. 15-20)? (From Kevin in Carmel, IN)

A. I can honestly say this is the first time anyone has suggested any member of the Pacers adopt an attitude more in line with that of Derrick McKey, who for the balance of his career tended to drive fans (and coaches) crazy with his, well, relaxed approach to scoring. But you do make a good point. Artest is so good, defensively, that he assumes he will play well at that end of the floor every game. When asked to evaluate his play, he almost always talks in terms of his offense.

During the regular season, he attempted 12.2 shots per game. During the playoffs, it increased to 15 shots per game (and his field goal percentage dropped to .389. A little more than one-third of his shots against the Celtics were 3-pointers. Though he made a respectable percentage (.387), the Celtics were content to let him fire away from the perimeter because that is where he poses a lesser threat. With his size and strength, he is much scarier to defenders in the post or within 15 feet of the basket.

Central to the development of any player is his ability to exploit his strengths while masking his weaknesses. Artest, for good reason, always will be known as a fierce defender and competitor. Scoring is his sauce, not his steak.