Will Artest, Tinsley Lead?

by Conrad Brunner

November 1, 2004

Monday, November 1, 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. With so many injuries afflicting the Pacers and particular weakness now at the center and power forward positions, players truly will need to step up and play as a team. That said, I have three questions. Now that J.O. and Reggie are out for awhile, the primary leaders are (Ron) Artest and (Jamaal) Tinsley. Though both good players, will Artest be able to effectively take control and keep his cool to lead the team, or will his possible attitude hurt us? And will Tinsley be able to step into a big leader role and really inspire the team? Now that our center consists of only Scot Pollard, with David Harrison probable to be playing by the start of the season, do you think Harrison will be able to step up and be effective this early? (From Justin in Cape Coral, FL)

A. The early indications about Artest's ability to rise to the occasion as not only the focal point of the offense, but as an on-court leader, are positive. He will relish the role of being the go-to guy. The difference will be in the number of double-teams he'll see, particularly when posting up. Without O'Neal on the floor, defenses will be able to throw much more his way and it'll be interesting to see how he adjusts. He sometimes tries to do too much himself; if he trusts his teammates and uses his abilities to make plays for them, he'll be fine. Tinsley has been steadily emerging as more of a leadership figure and the security of his contract extension should cement his status. Now, everybody in the locker room knows he's going to be around for a while, and when a franchise makes that kind of commitment to a player, it strengthens his credibility in the locker room and on the court.

As for the center position, Pollard played much better in this preseason than the last, but it will be particularly important for him to be conscious of avoiding his penchant for foul trouble. You don't want him to lose his aggressive edge, because that's a big part of his game, but neither can he afford to take unnecessary risks because the Pacers need him on the floor as much as possible. Harrison is back at practice and gives every indication he'll be available for the season opener, and that's significant because he brings a much-needed big, strong body to the bench. Though it's important not to expect too much from a rookie center, Harrison just may be up to the challenge.