Ron Artest’s numbers are down this season. Not just his minutes but his efficiency — his shooting percentage is below 40 percent for the first time in years, he is getting to the free throw line less often, his rebounding rates (percentage of rebounds grabbed) are down.
To his credit, Artest is consistent in saying he doesn’t care about any of that. He cares about wins and his new role is part of that, as he told Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times.
“Guys got better,” he said. ” Shannon [Brown] got much better. It’s his time to shine. Steve [Blake] is averaging more than Jordan [Farmar] last year and then Matt Barnes is probably averaging more than Luke [Walton]. So if you take all those points, those are points I probably could have had. But those are team points.
“When people start talking about numbers, I think realistically they’re trying to sabotage the team and they’re trying to get negative feedback from a player to be against his team. If somebody says, ‘Ron Artest is not playing as well,’ they’re trying to take away from the team. That’s how I take those questions. People are trying to cause friction….
“The sun comes out when it’s going to come out. You can’t just force it,” he said. “I could go maybe eight for 15 every game or something like that, and take away shots from other guys. I’d rather have two points and everybody else score. I’d rather win.”
That attitude is how you get wins. A more aggressive Artest would help that along, but you get the feeling talking to him that when the time comes, when it really matters and it’s not December, Artest will know to step up.