Hollinger Makes the Case for Artest

I expressed some doubts as to whether exchanging Trevor Ariza for Ron Artest really makes the Lakers better. John Hollinger makes the case that he is:

At small forward, L.A. mostly needs a floor spacer, and as far as floor-spacing ability goes, Artest is superior to Ariza — he shot 39.9 percent on 3s last season, Ariza 31.9 percent. […] Overall, Artest isn’t as efficient as Ariza offensively because he tends to force terrible shots, but that’s likely to be less of a problem in a system in which he’s the fourth option behind Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum. Additionally, he’s a good passer who might see his assist rate bump significantly in L.A.

Basically the conjecture here is that rather than play in LA as he played in Houston (a guy who shoots more than Ariza, but does so less efficiently), Artest will start playing like a different guy who shoots less, but takes most of his shots in the form of highly efficient three pointers. Hollinger also says that Artest’s inferiority as a rebounder will be compensated for by his superiority as an on-the-ball defender.

Neither argument strikes me as clearly wrong, but I don’t think either is clearly correct. At the end of the day, the facts that Ariza is younger and less crazy seem like controlling tie-breakers to me.