Will Heavy Playing Time<br>Take a Toll on Artest?

by Conrad Brunner

Wednesday, Nov. 19, 2003

Wednesday, Nov. 19, 2003

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. Ron Artest has been stellar in the early going of the season. In scanning the minutes-played column of the box score, it appears he is on the floor too much this early in the season and seems likely to flag come February and March. Any likelihood coach (Rick Carlisle) will ease back on the 39 minutes a night allowing for the toughening up the second and third rotations in order to save his legs and body for the stretch run and playoffs? (From Don in Huntington, WV)

A. There’s no question Artest has carried an unusually heavy load of playing time thus far; his average of 40.3 minutes per game is tied for sixth in the NBA. It’s also a pace that, if maintained, would break Reggie Miller’s franchise record (3,192 total minutes during the 1989-90 season). It represents an increase of nearly 7 minutes per game from last season for Artest. While it’s likely Artest is one of the two or three best-conditioned players on the team, it seems fair to assume that the heavy load, if continued, would indeed take a toll – particularly on a player who works so hard on both ends of the floor. In all probability, Jonathan Bender’s return would lighten Artest’s load somewhat, because Bender will get minutes at both of Artest’s primary positions, small forward and shooting guard. The only question is when Bender will return. Though he has returned to practice, Bender still is reporting discomfort in his knee that limits his flexibility, so it remains uncertain when the young 7-footer will be activated from the injured list. Until then, Artest probably will continue at his present pace.