Pacers shooting: 16.5 ppg, FG: 42.9%, 3P: 31.2%, FT: 72.9%
This was a tough spot to pick.
Ron Artest played 193 eventful games for the Indiana Pacers before his tenure came to an explosive end. Not for the Malice in the Palace, he still had the support of the fanbase after it.
What drew the terminal ire of the fans and Pacers front office was when he complained about “the lack of fan support” and asked for a trade the season after the brawl. Before that definitive conclusion, Artest was a powerful presence for the Indiana Pacers.
Artest drew most of his acclaim for his defensive prowess, which earned him a defensive player of the year award in 2004.
Artest was also a versatile offensive player teaming with Jermaine O’Neal to form one of the better one-two punches in the NBA. During the two seasons from 2002-2004, Artest accounted for 18 percent of the Pacers scoring, 20 percent in 2003-04 alone, the year he made his only All-Star team, and the year Indiana won 61 games on their way to the Eastern Conference Finals.
At his best from the midrange, Artest would also frequently use his size to bully the smaller forwards tasked with guarding him. During his brief Pacers peak, Artest short nearly 60 percent at or near the rim where his developed post game was challenging to face.
He was also developing his 3-point shot before he nuked his future in Indiana. Artest still is, and likely will forever be, a difficult franchise figure to comprehend. He had so much talent and destruction. One can’t help but wonder if he could have productively harnessed his fire, what heights he would have achieved? For two years he did just that and he was a force to be reckoned with.