Jamel Artis has been the Pittsburgh Panther’s starting small forward for the last two seasons, but now he is apparently changing positions, to point guard in fact.
This appears to be an odd change, most times a small forward changes position it is to power forward or shooting guard, but rarely to point guard. Point forwards are not completely out of the norm, just look at LeBron James, however Artis is no LeBron obviously.
Artis told Alan Saunders of Pittsburgh Sports Now “We didn’t have a true point guard that was going to start, I came to him (Coach Stallings) and said this is the best fit for us. He trusted me and I like that.”
The move appears odd, especially when you look at Artis’ last season numbers when he averaged just three assists compared to two turnovers per game. He did show an ability to distribute effectively against Syracuse tallying 20 assists in three games.
To me this raises several important questions before the season. First and foremost, has neither Damon Wilson Jr. nor Justise Kithcart shown any promise yet? These are really the only two true point guards on the roster and while Damon is a sophomore and Justise a freshman it comes as a mild surprise neither one is being considered for the starting point guard job.
Secondly and more importantly how will Artis operate the point guard position? While those three Syracuse games show potential, they also represent an obvious trend. Artis can pass against zone defense. Since most teams play man-to-man defense that could be an issue. Zone defense gives Artis the luxury of surveying the defense while other temmates can take advantage of the holes in the zone. Against man-to-man defense Artis was regularly careless with the ball and that spells trouble.
Also, how is Artis going to defend quick point guards? Pitt struggled mightily to stick with quicker guards just look at Notre Dame’s Demetrius Jackson’s 26 and NC State’s Kat Barber’s 31 points.
Finally, what does this do to the starting rotation? Michael Young and Jamel Artis were locks before the season, as well Sheldon Jeter figures to be one. That leaves two spots left and it should be expected the senior, Chris Jones, would fill one of them. Now with only one spot left and the point guard position being addressed by Artis that leaves Cam Johnson as the likely candidate to fill the final spot.
It cannot be for Ryan Luther, since that might be the most awkward starting rotation in the ACC with three power forwards in the starting lineup. And with Artis playing point it is unlikely Wilson or Kithcart would start as the two guard, so it looks like Cam is the logical person.
That means this is how your 2016-17 Pittsburgh Panthers starting rotation will look.
PG- Jamel Artis
SG- Chris Jones
SF- Cameron Johnson
PF- Michael Young
C- Sheldon Jeter
This is certainly going to be interesting……..
*Full Alan Saunders article http://pittsburghsportsnow.com/2016/09/27/pitts-artis-stallings-put-this-freedom-on-us/