Artest Adds to Team Defense

Ron ArtestDuring L.A.s’ 2008-09 regular season, the to-be champs gave up an average of 99.3 points per game.

Fourteen games into the 2009-10 campaign, that number has dropped to 96.5 points per game. From Head Coach Phil Jackson to Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol, several Lakers have credited the addition of Ron Artest’s defensive skills with the early improvement of a team still learning how best to play together.

It’s no wonder than Artest ranks 5th in the NBA in plus-minus (+135), meaning the Lakers have outscored opponents by 135 points when he’s been on the floor. The only players above him are Dirk Nowitzki (+157), Al Horford (+155), Mike Bibby (+145) and L.A.’s own Kobe Bryant (+137).