Trevor Ariza — Come On Down

Kurt —  November 20, 2007

Well, we don’t have Brian Cook to kick around any more.

The Lakers traded two for one, giving up Mo Evans and Brian Cook to get former UCLA Bruin Trevor Ariza. This trade strikes me as a win for the Lakers, I’ll miss the consistency of Evans but this is Sasha’s chance to show that he is ready to be Kobe’s backup (and his last chance to prove it).

In Ariza the Lakers get an athletic wing man who can finish at the rim with authority. How much authority?

Picture that on the break with Farmar feeding him thee ball. That’s the high end of what he can do offensively, but there are downsides. Despite his work on the matter he has no midrange (or longer) game — this season he is shooting 21.4% on jump shots. The good news is he has learned from this — he takes few jumpers. While he is a three, only 47% of his shots are considered jump shots (most threes are more like 60%).

His athleticism makes Ariza a good rebounder (11.6% of the available boards this year, 12% last year), and he has a flair for the offensive boards.

Defensively, his numbers this year are bad (opposing threes are shooting 59% and have a PER of 22 this season) but that may be a matter of limited sample size. In previous years he was an average defender by the numbers, and by all accounts he has plenty of hustle.

Don’t take my word for it. Mike from Knickerblogger is one of the best NBA bloggers (and a guy I patterned this site after to a degree) and he saw a lot of Ariza when he was a Knick (and wishes they’d not put him in the disastrous Francis deal).

He’s a good rebounder, and moves well in the half court. From what I recall his handle is OK. Finishes pretty well around the hoop. His jumper is a work in progress, which is a nice way of saying he doesn’t have one.

On defense he’s good at anticipating the passing lanes, and will get (my favorite expression) his hands on a lot of balls. He’s not a lockdown defender, well at least he wasn’t as a teenager in New York. But he stays with his man well enough. You’d think he’d be able to block more shots with his athleticism, but he doesn’t.

Fans that can’t see past his inability to hit a jumper will hate him. Fans that like athletic players will like him. Just remember he’s only 22, so he’s got a lot of room to grow.

Then there is Ben Q Rock from the Magic-focused Third Quarter Collapse blog.

He’s a good defender. He just has a knack for staying between his man and the basket. He occasionally gambles and plays the passing lanes, which is how he lead the team in steals last year.

On offense, he’s fairly one-dimensional. He’s a dunker. He takes the ball to the basket and dunks you into oblivion. The only other way he can score is via the offensive rebound, which is another area in which he excels. That’s it. His jump-shot is suspect, to say the least, but he’s worked on it.

I’m not sure if I have anything else to add. You’re getting a high-energy player with great defensive skills who also happens to be a fan favorite due to his dunking and hustling.

For Orlando, Cook will spell Hedo Turkoglu at the four (allowing Lewis to move to the three at times) and ideally having Howard on the floor will negate some of his defensive weaknesses. Mo Evans will be a professional solid guy off the bench, as he has been in LA and Detroit.

What the Lakers get is another young athlete who may be able to work his way into the system. We’ll see how long it takes him to really adjust to the offense, but the Lakers just made a trade where they got the best player and saved salary in the process. That is the kind of trade we’ve wanted the Lakers’ front office to make.