Why is Artest Struggling?

by Conrad Brunner

May 26, 2004

If you'd like to pose a Question of the Day to Conrad Brunner, submit it along with your full name and hometown to Bruno's_mailbag@pacers.com Brunner’s opinions are his own and do not necessarily reflect those of Pacers players, coaches or management.

QUESTION
OF THE DAY

Conrad Brunner
Q. Why does Rick Carlisle put up with Ron Artest's poor decision-making on his shots? I understand that he is a great defender and gives the team an invaluable boost when he's on the floor. In the last few games, though, he's showed an increased tendency to go one-on-one, racking up terrible shooting percentages. Is this in the gameplan? It seems to me that Carlisle should either tell him to stop shooting or pull him out. (From Ben in La Quinta, CA)

A. There’s no question Artest has been trying much too hard to force the action inside. If you read assistant coach Dan Burke's scouting report on the Pistons prior to the series, one of his offensive keys was that the players “can’t be stubborn in attacking the rim because they have the Wallaces in there blocking shots.” Artest has had his shot blocked 10 times in two games, so it’s apparent he’s been pretty stubborn in attacking the rim – perhaps because he feels like he should be able to use his strength against the slender Tayshaun Prince. But Prince has done a good job funneling Artest toward the help defenders, hence the alarming number of blocked shots. Rather than driving to create a shot for himself, Artest could focus on creating opportunities for teammates. He has just two assists in the first two games, and that’s a figure that should climb. But it’s important that Artest be allowed to play through his mistakes and learn what adjustments to make, rather than simply pulling him from the game. To beat the Pistons, the Pacers need Artest at his peak on the floor, not on the bench.