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.

Kurt

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56 responses to Trevor Ariza — Come On Down

  1. I love it. First off, I think Cook might fare a bit better in Orlando with Howard getting all the attention down low. Originally, he was drafted to play alongside Shaq, so I guess one can draw a comparison in the scenarios. I liked Cook at first, but he eventually his one-dimensional play became too apparent for me, as he became incapable of succeeding at that dimension as time progressed.

    As for Ariza, I am excited about it. I have a feeling he will mesh well with Farmar on the break. Mo has been hit or miss, and while I never got goosebumps as he went to check in, my heart rate didn’t fly off the charts either.

    Anyways, as Mitch said, we got rid of duplicates. This not only frees up Vlad who is playing stellar ball in my opinion, but will likely give Sasha some consistent PT, which I really hope he takes advantage of. Hopefully with a steady diet of minutes, he can carve himself a niche on our bench mob, and keep Kobe fresh for when we really need him.

    Ariza: WELCOME HOME

  2. How exactly do you integrate a new guy into the team and teach him the offense in the middle of the season (especially an offense as complicated as the triangle)? Is he just going to be free lancing most of the time?

  3. It’s not the middle of the season. There’s 72 games left, Pedram.

  4. Wow, interesting news…

  5. I’m a litttle sad to see Mo go, I liked his aggressiveness. But I never thought he ever really had a break-out game where you sat and thought “boy, if he could only do that every night”. He always seemed to miss on his shot too much or he would blow a layup that should have been automatic. It does open things up now for Sasha to log real minutes, but he’s just like Mo in the way that he really has yet to put together a solid outing. Sasha looks like he has the mechanics sort of like how Glen Rice did where his shot looks like it should go in every time. Good luck Mo! Oh, and Brian, don’t let the door hit you on the way out.

  6. I think it’s a good trade for the Lakers. Ariza can add some more defense off the bench as well as another player who can run the break with the second unit off the bench. Scoring for the Lakers so far this season obviously isn’t a problem so Ariza’s shooting problems won’t be magnified as much as it was in his past situations. Getting Cook of the team was something that had to be done since he’s a one dimensional player who shouldn’t have been given a three year extension in the first place, especially with the signing last year of Radmanovic. Losing Evans might be a little tougher since he was a good backup to Kobe but the vacant role can be given to Sasha who can hopefully bring some long distance shooting off the bench in short spurts.

  7. The Lakers have shown that they have enough offense to compete with the top teams in the league. This trade really should help improve the defense. Currently Kobe has all the burden of locking down the opponents best wingman. Ariza should be our backup defensive specialist (like Ruben Patterson).

    In 2004-5 Dan Rosenbaum ranked him in the top 10 defensive SFs in the league. http://www.82games.com/rosenbaum3.htm

    Hopefully he has only grown better since then.

  8. It’s not often a GM can fix a mistake before it really bites them in the arse. Clearing Cook’s salary in the first year of the deal was a real coup pulled by Mitch. Imagine this blog’s take on Brian Cook in the final year of his deal. It was already brutal in the first year!

    Also, nobody seems to mention that this could also clear some playing time for Javaris Crittendon. I know he plays more of a PG, but he is a big guard who can score and fit very well into a smallball scheme. Could you imagine Farmar and Crittendon on the court pressuring the ball at the same time? Could be disruptive at times for the other team when used correctly.

    Just love the added versatility we have obtained.

    I’ll miss Brian Cook’s shooting and Mo Evans “pogo-stick” energy, but a guy like Ariza could be a real difference-maker in the long-term on a team finding it’s identity.

  9. What will the Laker’s do to fill the last roster space after this 2 for 1 deal?

  10. Sasha will get more minutes, but I’m not sure how many or for how long. Crit seems like more of an NBA 2 than a point gaurd (at least from what we’ve seen so far) and his upside is greater than Sahsa’s. But, Sasha will definitely have a shot at proving himself.

    The ESPN conspiracy types are already saying this move means something where Kobe is concerned–since the Lakers got another young player who hasn’t reached his potential instead of “win now” guy. But, since our biggest issue is defense (if not turnovers), it makes sense to go for a more athletic player with a history of solid D, even if he is only 22. And nobody was going to give us a cagey vet for Brian Cook anyways. I like this trade fine, both from a future and a present standpoint.

  11. Great trade. I have been waiting for the Cook move for a while now. It was literally a wasted spot on the roster. Not because he wasn’t a decent player, but because Vlade is the same player (except better).

    I think this is good for Java Critt. Let’s get him out there on the floor. I’d love to see him eventually back up Kobe.

    We’re more athletic, and added more defense.

    Kudos Mitch.

  12. This trade doesn’t blow the doors off anyone, however it does make things better in a number of areas…
    1) Gets Cook out of the Rad/Cook picture
    2) Defensively bolsters our weakest position — SF (Lamar and Vlade can slide over to PF for some matchups)
    3) Opens a spot on our roster if another trade comes down the pike or we need a vet pickup
    4) Gets us out of luxury tax territory
    5) Allows us to give Crit and possibly Karl some minutes during the year, because they may not be inactive

    The Lakers just got sounder overall and we become younger without serious impact to our 1-10 players.

    Since Ariza was brought in primarily for defense, I suspect he won’t have as much trouble in the triangle because the other players will pretty much ignore him. Perhaps Jordan will take him under his wing and get him working on his game over next summer.

  13. I’m not even sure how much Ariza is going to play. With the complexities of the offense and the season in full swing, I wonder where he will get the practice time he needs to really acclimate himself to this team. I mean, we are playing well right now and Phil seems pretty comfortable with the players that are still here. Remember too that Evans was mostly backing up Kobe whereas Walton is the primary 3 off the bench and Vlad can play there as well.

    I actually see this as a salary dump more than anything else. Kupchak has now rid himself of Cook’s deal and gives the team more breathing room under the luxury tax. So if Ariza shows he has the goods it’s just a bonus. Right now the strength of this team is the bench and we did not deal anyone of true consequence that will change how effective that unit can be.

    Much luck to Evans and Cook on their new team. I agree with what was said earlier about Cook being best paired next to a true post threat and Evans being a real blue collar pro and a good addition to any team.

    I really hope we can just keep this thing rolling the way it is right now, playing good ball.

  14. I’m happy with the trade and I’m no Cookie apologist, but why all the hate? It’s like Smush is gone so now we have to hate on somebody and that somebody is Brian Cook.

    Again, it’s not like I think we need a poor man’s Radmanovic when we have the real deal … but come on people, show Cookie some love and wish him luck with his new team!

  15. I imagine Ariza’s playing time will be small at first and grow as he earns it by understanding the offense and showing that and what he can do on the court.

    Also, don’t be in a rush to fill that roster spot. Leave it open until the trading deadline, it gives us flexibility.

  16. We now have that $2.9M injury exemption until 11 Dec. I see others think the Lakers will use it to sign a vet at more money. Personally, I think Mitch will let it expire as we really don’t need anyone just now and we have players to trade at the FEB deadline if necessary.

  17. This move is setting us up for another move down the road. I smell it.

  18. maybe we really needed the Kobe-drama in the offseason. bench is stepping up, FO is making logical moves, and Kobe is actually playing team ball (to prove that he is more than a scorer and increase his value, perhaps?).

    now kobe has something else to look forward to other than just in-house improvement. and speaking of that extra spot, what type of a player do we need most? defensive-center? productive forward? just anyone who’s durable? triangle-familiar guard? or is cap space all we need?

  19. I LOVE this trade. I’ve been saying there’s no way any GMs dumb enough to take on his contract, but I guess throwing in a cheap, quality player like Evans makes sense. My only concern is that the 3 is already pretty crowded with Luke pushed to the bench and Lamar playing strictly SF.

    Whatever, just for the money saved, the space for Critt to develop, and no more pulling my hair out cuzza Cook’s lazy ass, I love it.

  20. Anyone know how this cat’s defense is chasing guys off the 3-point line?

    The KCAL guys said the Lakers thought Ariza would be good to guard the Shawn Marion and Rashard Lewises of the league.

  21. Wow, I just watched clips of Ariza on youtube and had Orlando Woolridge flash-backs…

  22. The move was largely for the financial considerations that was acquired by dumping off Brian Cook’s contract and effectively swapping Mo Evans with Ariza. That Battie-exception worked well for us. As i have always said, moving Cook would be tricky because of the BYC status. With Orlando needing that additional firepower to bolster its 10-2 start, I think we ended up winning on this one.

    For what its worth, I wish Mo and Cookie the best of luck in Orlando. Hope they become part of the rotation and I hope Mo plays well wnough to get a bigger contract next year.

    Back to our team, welcome Trevor Ariza.

    For the time being, Ariza can be the Devean George-emulate. Hustle on D, dunk when able. The difference is that George had a three that was effective for the Tri and Ariza has none. Well, his contract looks good. Everyone expects him to pick up that player option next year so we will still have a young, defensive player on our team.

    As it is, the team is playing very well. Vlade Radman is making up for that stupid accident last season and is not slowly “earning” his playing time and his green light.
    Kwame’s injury still bothers me, an extra big body like his is very important on back-to-backs on road trips away from home. In spite, I still like our chances against Milwaukee tomorrow.

    Ariza can fill in at the 2-3 spot on the second unit. We will see a little of him if we played like we did tonight vs. Indiana at Milwaukee. Farmar can indeed create a shot for him and it will come in no less than a dunk.

    1st unit:
    Fish-Kobe-Lamar-Vlade-Drew (against a weaker defensive team)

    2nd unit:
    Farmar-Crittenton-Luke-Ronny-Mihm

    Or Sasha as Phil likes better. But since the Lakers are riding a nice wave of success and a flurry of wins, wouldn’t it be nice if we gave the young man some PT? Say 15mins at the 1-2 of the second unit.

    Once more, welcome Trevor and Wish you well Cookie and Mo.

  23. I have some interesting quotes from Bynum and Kobe after the game and the trade…

    http://www.ocregister.com/sports/bynum-bryant-lakers-1926826-trade-basketball

    This one too.

    INDIANAPOLIS — Andrew Bynum swatted Jermaine O’Neal’s shot back at him. O’Neal went up again, and Bynum got that, too.

    Springing off the Lakers’ bench a few feet away Tuesday night, riveted to the action and pumping his fist in celebration, was one player and one player only: Kobe Bryant…

    Perhaps Bryant, whose desire to see Bynum traded was captured on video earlier this year, isn’t quite ready to replace Evans as Bynum’s best friend, but this game reflected how a once-cavernous divide between Bryant and Bynum has been filled with real relationship. After the game Bynum referred to Bryant by that one-syllable, shorthand moniker that only those who feel comfortable with him will use: “Kob.”

    Bynum gave Bryant the credit for the blocks on O’Neal, saying Bryant’s advice about defending O’Neal helped much more than motivation over Indiana being Bynum’s potential trade destination.

    “It was more working with Kob a little bit before the game,” Bynum said. “He was telling me how to play Jermaine.”…

    Said Bryant of Bynum: “He’s very competitive. He’s quiet, but he has a lot of fire inside.

    He takes a challenge personally, and I like to see that.”…

    Jordan Farmar followed up his career-high eight-assist game with a career-high 18-point game. When Farmar stole a page from Bryant’s book with a tricky move to draw a foul while making a three-pointer, Bynum smiled and said to Bryant: “That’s hot!”…

    “He’s very bright,” Bryant said of Bynum. “So the information that I pass on to him, he quickly processes that information, can register it and go out and execute it. He did a great job of it tonight. I’ll just continue to guide him. He has a lot of promise and I’ll try to help him along as much as I can.”

  24. [Edited] Good trade moving Cook out and bringing in Ariza. He’s a solid hustle guy and will work well on the second unit. By the games so far…we aren’t lacking any scoring touch on the second unit, so him not having a great shot isn’t a big deal. And by the outcome of last nights game, and allowing 114 we could use some solid second unit d.

    Too bad we had to move Mo for this, he’ll be missed. If for nothing else than the fact that you were almost guarenteed a highlight play every night he was in the ballgame.

  25. I don’t think the Lakers will fill that last roster spot unless someone they can not pass on suddenly becomes available (Marbury if the knicks buy him out, just kidding). Why would they sign someone just to go back over the luxury tax which they just got under?

  26. Sorry for the double post. But I want to know what people think of Ariza playing with the second unit with Walton as Kobe’s back up. I think it could work, you could put walton on the slower player and allow Ariza to guard whoever is quicker. Plus he could be fairly effective cutting to the basket with Walton or Farmar looking for him and in transition.

  27. t isnt easy to find a GM that Mitch can man-handle. Perhaps only Otis Smith qualifies.

    Having tried desperately to win the Bill Simmons “worst GM” award by overpaying by 50m for Rashard Lewis, letting Milicic go for nothing, and drafting Fran Vasques, JJ Redick, and Rayshawn Terry in successive drafts, Smith was faced with the unexpected prospect of posting a winning season – which instantly disqualifies him from the Simmons award. He carefully studied the stat sheet, examining the players according to his own special “Smith Score”. Similar to OPS in baseball, the S-Score is the combination of a players +- score and his PER. Smith’s beady eyes noted that the lowest S-Score in the league (infact, the all time low) was held by Brian Cook – an outstanding achievement in Smith’s eyes. He wanted to offer Ariza straight up for Cook but realized that he had to disguise his true intentions. Hence, he insisted on Evans as the “beard” of the transaction. Smith was happy to give up his injury trade exception to make the deal work. Smith smiled, this trade must surely now make the Simmons award a lock!

    Seriously, what a great trade. I always thought Ariza defended Kobe well. And a great hustle guy. An athletic Madsen/Najera.

    1. The obvious addition by subtraction. Cook

    2. Even if Kupchak’s sole reason for this was to force Jackson to play Critt more, this is a good deal (watch as Sasha takes all of Mo’s minutes!)

    3. Ariza can play w Bynum and Farmar with Odom, Luke, or Vlade and be the slasher and perimeter defender in the group.

    The question is how long will it take for him to learn the system… I’m guessing that it will take until 2008.

    Mo was a nice player but he’s as good as he is going to get. Ariza is already better and still has upside.

  28. Cook may not be popular on this board but he was one of the smartest one at taking the charge on the box. Be as it may, it took a lot of class to show up to the game last night and sit behind the bench to cheer and support our Lakers even though he knew he was no longer one of them.

    and because of that….i tip my hat off to the Man. Wish you well with Orlando Cookie!!!!

    we’ll see you again and I’ll give a clap for you and Mo.

    Thanks for the memories Cookie and good luck!!!

  29. The next move is to make another play at JO, without giving up Bynum. Imagine Bynum and JO in the same front court. He is the true power forward that we are missing. That, and getting another offensive player allows Kobe to guard the Parker’s and the Paul’s. For example, against San Antonio, say we start Fish, Kobe, Ariza, JO, and Drew. In terms of defensive assignments, put Kobe on Parker, Ariza on Ginobli, Fish on Bowen, JO on Duncan, Drew on Oberto. Let Bowen post Fish up. If they beat us with Bowen in the post, I’ll live with that. Not very likely though.

  30. We are not going to start speculating about “the next trade.” but after last night do you really think indy (or anyone else) is going to make a big trade with the Lakers that doesn’t involve bynum?

  31. Amen, Kurt. Bynum is showing the promise that the Lakers have been waiting on and his value is only going up around the league. The Lakers would not be able to get any quality player w/o the other team demanding Bynum.

    Plus, right now, why even worry about the next deal? The Lakers are showing that they can compete with any team in the league when they play their “A” game. We have the right mix of veterans and enthusiastic, quality young players that can keep getting better as the year goes on. By no means am I saying that the Lakers are true contenders right now, but if they continue to play team ball and improve as the season progresses they can make a lot of noise in the post season and knock off any team. One of the biggest reasons is that Phil is a great coach and has always proven, come playoff time, that he can devise a game plan to limit the effectiveness of any team. He has done it to every team the Lakers have faced in the playoffs since he’s been here, even though we have not won every series. Am I too optimistic? Maybe. But this team is constantly proving to me that they are competitive and hungry enough to do anything when they play as a team and are on the same page.

  32. It’s sad to see Evans and Cook go, but I agree with everyone that the move was a good and necessary one. That being said, with Kwame’s extended injury, can the Lakers afford not to at least pick up a big man just to bolster the PF/C situation? Bynum, Mihm, and Turiaf have to be relatively injury free for the next month or so b/c of the lack of big men on the bench.

    I think Ariza may surprise a lot of people, this kid is ridiculously athletic and going home will hopefully work wonders for his confidence. All in all, a good night for the Lakers and a sound financial move. As for Evans, I think he’ll find good minutes at Orlando b/c of their lack of shooting guards, and will have an opportunity to showcase his skills as a free agent to be. Best of luck to both of them.

  33. As I watched youtube clips of Ariza doing nothing but dunking in traffic, I couldn’t help but think of Farmar or Kobe getting into the lane, drawing the defense. and dishing to Ariza for the smash.

    Dare I use the word shrewd and Kupchak in the same sentence?

  34. I’m not familiar with Ariza at all, but he sounds kind of like a young Mo Evans. Evans shot is more developed, but he’s not exactly a marksman and mainly makes his mark with athletic ability to defend and jump out of the building. So maybe the thought was that Evans and Ariza were a scratch and we were just dumping Cook into a situation that really is better for him. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him average 10ppg the rest of the season. Orlando is custom made for his narrow skill set as he can relieve both Turkoglu and Lewis.

    The lakers should in no way trade Bynum at this point. The kid had 17 points on 6 shots last night and he dominated (an admittedly hurt) JO. In a couple years, with even better conditioning, know-how, and a lot more FGAs, there’s no telling where he might be. There’s no reason to think he can’t pull 12-13 rpg either, so long as he stays hungry. If that means they make no big trades, so be it. If Kobe doesn’t see the exact same thing, then there’s not going to be any appeasing him.

  35. Also: did Farmar and Ariza play at the same time? Or did Ariza graduate right before farmar showed up? If they already have some chemistry, that would be another positive.

  36. I like the trade. Having not seen him, I don’t know if the reviews on Ariza sound very positive, sounds more like dead weight to me. But maybe he will improve.

    I love the energy the Lakers are playing with this season. It’s something we haven’t seen in many many years. The Lakers seemed to get used to the idea that they could turn it on in the playoffs, but that strategy has failed them since the last championship. I am worried about whether the Lakers can keep up the intensity for an entire season, but that is a much preferable problem to the lack of passion and team chemistry seen in recent years.

  37. 36. No. Ariza played one year at UCLA, Howland’s first year as coach. He left just as the freshman class of Farmar/Afflalo/Shipp/Mata came in and took the team to the NCAA title game. Like I said before, I thought Ariza needed another year of college to round out his game, but part of that was selfish — can you imagine how much better that Bruin team would have been with Ariza’s athleticism? Could they have beaten Florida?

  38. Florida came in Farmar’s 2nd year, not his first.

    Ariza left UCLA for 2 reasons:
    1) $
    2) Ben Howland wasn’t the one who recruited him, Steve Lavin was. Ariza was a high school phenom who didn’t like working in Ben Howland’s pressured, defensive intensity above all else, type of atmosphere – so he left.

    It is really funny that we are talking about his defensive abilities now – which he probably learned from Ben Howland – when that was one of the reasons he left UCLA.

  39. Speaking of UCLA… Kevin Love looks pretty impressive and so does UCLA even with an injury depleted back court.

  40. If Indiana continues going nowhere this year, couldn’t we get JO for Odom and Kwame’s expiring? With Kobe and Fish, I’d rather have a defender at the 3, and my scoring out of the 4 and 5 positions, which is what JO and Bynum can do.

  41. We don’t need JO. Look at how poorly he played last night. I don’t think we really need another player at this point until we see some glaring weaknesses that the current regime cannot fix.

  42. I wonder if the Lakers pick up someone like Jamal Sampson. I think he’s unemployed right now, and I’m pretty sure he has some experience with the triangle. They need another big. It’s pretty obvious now that Andrew is untouchable, even if some moronic sportswriters still believe the Lakers should trade him for JO. Let’s compare their stats from last night:

    Bynum 17pts 10rebs 4blk 100% FG 83%FT
    O’Neal 14pts 3 rebs 0blk 31%FG 67%FT

    Salaries:
    Bynum ~$2.5m-3m not sure exactly
    O’Neal ~$19m

    Age:
    Bynum 20 yrs
    O’Neal 29 yrs

  43. 39. My bad, you’re correct about the years.

  44. Does anybody think the Ariza trade has anything to do with Kwame’s injury?

    If Kwame’s injury would usually last about a month, that means he’ll be out 2 months at least. The value of his expiring contract peaks as we get towards february, so if we were thinking of moving him (for whom I don’t know), he may not play another game for the lakers.

    With the desire to keep Bynum’s minutes down to keep him fresh, and Mihm’s apparent inability to take all the remaining minutes, could a solid rebounding 3 be seen as a quick fix. Play him or Walton at the 3, while Odom takes the PF spot and maybe Turiaf plays center? This small lineup could still rebound and could push the floor with the Farmar led second unit…

    Maybe a long shot, but it’s something that occured to me. I do agree that the trade mainly frees up time to see if Sasha’s new ability to drive the ball and get to the free throw line is for real…

  45. If no JO, then teach Kwame how to play the 4. The guy’s a beast. He has the body of the perfect. I just don’t understand what’s his block with this position. Is he really that lazy?

  46. After last night’s performance maybe Kuptchak can sucker Bird into giving up JO for Kwame and Mimh.

  47. Mike in the Mountain West November 21, 2007 at 2:34 pm

    I think we got quite the steal in Ariza. Last year he had a PER of 16.27 and here is what Hollinger has to say about it him:

    2006-07 season:

    One of Orlando’s most promising young players, Ariza took a big step forward last year by shooting a sizzling 53.9 percent from the floor and posting the sixth-best rebound rate among small forwards. He did this despite missing 25 games with injuries and needing some time to re-establish himself in the rotation once he came back, and did it without the benefit of a jump shot.

    Ariza once again took nearly all his shots in the painted area, as he’s a 30-percent career shooter on long 2-pointers and hasn’t a made a 3-pointer in his year and a half in Orlando. He also struggled at the line, making 62 percent, and that has hurtful considering he had the sixth-best rate of free-throw attempts per field-goal attempt at his position. Despite those issues, Ariza ranked 16th among small forwards in true shooting percentage, and got enough opportunities around the basket to average over 15 points per 40 minutes.

    Scouting report:

    The 6-9 Ariza is one of the most athletic small forwards in basketball. He’s a devastating finisher in transition, and his hops make him a big asset on the glass despite a lack of muscle. He’s also quick, and those feet might make him one of the best defenders at his position in a couple years. Even last season, he ranked seventh among small forwards in steals per minute, but the 22-year-old needs more game experience to master the nuances of team defense.

    Offensively, his quickness translates into penetration skills, as he was able to get to the rim fairly often despite not being a very elusive dribbler. However, his jumper is a mess and still needs lots of work. Ariza is also a sloppy ballhandler who ranked 58th at his position in turnover ratio.

  48. it’s great to see the lakes with at least 2 solid nba players at each position. the bench was so bad 2000-04.

  49. I really like the 2nd unit w/ Farmar-Critt-Ariza/Walton- Radman-Mihm/Bynum. This unit is by far the best in the league! If Critt developes into the player i think he is capable of being then the Lakers are the best team in the West!

  50. 1) They say the Laker bench is the second highest scoring bench in the league. Anybody know who’s first? I’m guessing San Antonio or Dallas.

    2) I can’t wait to see Bynum have a 20/20. I know he’ll have one this year. If not, he’ll get awfully close.

    3) The Lakers are No. 2 in Hollinger’s power rankings. THey’ve also had the toughest schedule in the league. I know they caught a lot of breaks with the Pistons, Rockets, Suns, and Bulls with injuries and second night of back-to-backs, but this has to seem pretty impressive. Anyone think this means anything?

  51. sorry for the double post, but here’s the link to hollinger’s power rankings:
    http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/hollinger/powerranking

  52. Bynum and Mihm at center, with Turiaf getting a few minutes there.

    Turiaf starting at PF, with Odom and Vlad getting some time there.

    Odom starting at SF, with Walton and Ariza getting time there.

    I don’t think they trade for anyone, but they might sign someone to a succession of 10-day contracts as insurance policy.

  53. Lamar,
    “Anyone think this means anything? ”

    Too soon to tell for sure. Definitely better than last season, but have they made the jump to contender yet? IMO probably not until next year.

  54. Taken from David Thorpe’s chat today:
    ——————————————-
    matt (San Fran): David, I have a somewhat subjectuve question for you…who do you think is the best athlete in the NBA? I’ve heard convincing cases for Howard, Lebron, Tmac, and Kobe, but more interesting….Barbosa, NASH, Shaq, and even Bruce Bowen. Care to chime in?

    SportsNation David Thorpe: In a decathlon, I’d lean to Ariza, then LeBron.
    ——————————————-

    That is pretty impressive to be consider the athlete in the league. Thorpe also ranked Lakers just behind the Big 3 in the west. Very nice words about the lakers in his chat today. Thorpe’s opinions generally seem to be non-biased and pretty level-headed so this is good to hear.

  55. brilliant trade, looking back a month after the trade went through.

    lakers dumped salary as well as two players who were essentially just overcrowding the rotation. certainly, cook fits this description, as he was well behind the high-energy turiaf and much better shooting radman on the depth chart; evans is a long, skilled slasher but vujacic has really stepped it up to replace his scoring while ariza is an upgrade on defense and in terms of athleticism.

    look at the lakers depth chart now:
    PG – fish, farmar, crit
    SG – kobe, vujacic
    SF – walton, ariza
    PF – odom, vlad
    C – bynum, turiaf, mihm

    unbelievable – for the first time since the championship era, there are ZERO crappy players in the lakers’ rotation (OK, you might make a case for mihm, but he’s hardly playing anyways). sasha and vlad have made huge strides forward this year, while cook represented the last lazy player on the lakers’ roster.

    and once kwame comes back, the lakers will have even more defensive depth (against the best teams in the west, phil should give some serious thought to odom-kwame-bynum in the frontcourt for maximum size/defense advantage). i’m a big fan of fish-kobe-odom-turiaf-kwame with farmar-sasha-ariza-radman-bynum off the bench. those are two solid 5-man units, and you can plug walton in whenever you need an extra passer in there.

    GO LAKERS