So is Artest really that good? Good enough that you would endure the hassles that come with him? So good it makes all worthwhile?
I'll tell you what I think Artest's best asset is. He is only 26 years old. And that means that it's likely his best years are still ahead of him both physically and in regard to his maturity level. He has the prototypical NBA body. In terms of speed, size and strength, only LeBron matches Artest. Artest is a solid and cut specimen. He is listed at 6'7" and 260. I'd guess more like 6'5" and about 245-250. Be that as it may, he can bang under the boards, run the floor, back you down or go by you. He has all that.
He obviously is one of the best, if not the best defender in the game. He has the body, the skill and mostly the desire to stop his opponent. I'd pretty much guarantee that when guys look at the schedule there aren't a lot of smiles when they realize they'll be playing Artest.
But when you consider the baggage and the likelihood of future problems, is he worth it? His offensive game is solid but certainly not spectacular. He is a decent all-around shooter--from mid-range, beyond the arc and at the free throw line. His career numbers from those areas are 42%, 32% and 72%. Again, solid but nothing special.
His career averages are 14.6 ppg, 4.8 rpg and 2.9 apg against 2.3 tpg. He also averages over 2 steals a game and 0.7 bpg.
For a team like Sacramento I think he is worth it, at least in theory. Peja's numbers if not his skills are in decline and they weren't going to re-sign him at some obnoxious number. Word also has it that they were not setting him solid screens and he was not getting as many free looks as he was before. We'll see how he produces for Indy. It looks to be a nice replacement for Reggie Miller. And I trust Rick Carlisle to get him the ball in optimum scoring positions.
And while Peja is not a great defender, he does rebound decently. His career average of 5.0 is higher than Artest. He is also a good passer and has a knack for the passing lanes on D. He is a sure thing free throw shooter. This year he has converted 98-105 for 93% and he in an off year is still shooting 40% from 3pt. range.
This will be fun to follow. Maybe it will be one of those rare win-win deals. So for the next 5 seasons, who would you rather have--all things considered?