Last year, in the 2009 playoffs. Yao Ming and Dikembe Mutombo went down. Their front line consisted of Luis Scola, Landry and Chuck Hayes. Yet, despite lacking 14-15 feet of bodies... they pushed the Lakers to seven games, more than the Nuggets (full strength) and Magic (who beat the Cavs who were at full strength).
It's only been a few games... but this season the Lakers have played without Pau Gasol and played without Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol for 2 games. Yet, most the credit has been going to Kobe for carrying the offensive load.. and rightly so. However, if one looks at Kobe's numbers OTHER than scoring.. he has not done much. In fact, if one looks at Lamar Odom's numbers in the Grizzlies game, he fouled out, had three points, 6 rebounds and 4 assists. All subpar numbers for Lamar (especially since he is starting). Lamar also had subpar numbers as a starter against the Hornets having 7 pts, 9 rebounds and only six assists. Yet, on the defensive end (Laker fans) are rewarded with tacos each night. DJ Mbenga, Powell and even Luke Walton were able to hold their own as the front lineup. How I ask?
Well the title of the Article gives it away. The reason the Lakers were able to win, hold on, play defense, get rebounds is RON "pitbull" Artest. He led the Lakers in assists both games. He had 8 and 7 rebounds both games... but if one watched the game... many of Lamar or DJ's rebounds were due to Ron Artest's SOLID boxing out. Just like the Rockets... who played with Scola, Hayes and Landry... the Lakers are doing surprisingly well in two games with DJ, Josh and even Walton. Yes, Lamar.. you get some credit (but you ARE playing subpar).
I once wrote that Ron Artest was going to make the Lakers a lot tougher. DJ, Josh and Luke holding their own against Okafor and West? I would never have guessed. DJ, Josh and Luke holding their own against Randolph and Marc Gasol? I too would never have guessed just like I would never have guessed Scola, Landry and Hayes could have withstood Gasol, Odom and Bynum. Ron Artest is a multi-faceted player on both the defensive and offensive end. Him being there allows players to play to their strengths, grab more rebounds (due to his boxing out), play better defense and not only create his own shot but set up other Lakers with his team leading assists. If Trevor Ariza was still part of the Lakers... I'm sure he could "score" 20 or so in a game and pick up some of the scoring load. However to enable the Laker bigs to play better defensively and offensively? I doubt it. Can Trevor Ariza shut down Joe Johnson the way Ron Artest did? Maybe.
So for the year 2009-2010... the numbers may never support it for Ariza finally gets to throw up thrice the shots he would if he were in LA... but Ron Artest > Trevor Ariza.
I can only imagine Ron Artest's effect on the Lakers' Bynum and Gasol....