The expectations around Trevor Ariza this season bordered on the ludicrous. The kind of standards we are holding the Lost finale too — but that show had better live up to it, we’ve all been strung along for long enough. We want answers. Ones that make sense.
But back to Ariza. Last year he was a force in the NBA Finals, getting wide-open threes because Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol were creating them for him. And Stan Van Gundy let him take them, because he remembered the player he cut and not the player Ariza had become. Then there were the key steals, the defense.
He went from that to a Yao-less, McGrady-less Rockets team where as the new guy he was suddenly expected to create a lot of his own offense. His numbers suffered because of it — his true shooting percentage fell from a good 54.4 percent last year to an unimpressive 47.6 percent this year. (True shooting percentage is essentially points per shot attempt and counts free throws and threes in the mix.)
But now, with the dynamic Aaron Brooks/Kevin Martin backcourt creating most of the Rockets offense, Ariza has slid back into his familiar Lakers role, as Rotoworld pointed out. He has been playing minutes in the mid 20s most nights, and in the last three games he’s been giving Houston nine points, four rebounds and a couple of steals a game.
That’s not a bad thing, it’s who he is. Expecting otherwise was the mistake.
Next year, with a healthy Yao Ming back, Ariza could be a quality role player on a dangerous team. He could get chances in the open court, he could gamble a little more on defense because he has the Great Wall of China behind him to protect the rim. He could be a better version of his Lakers self. Just don’t expect anything more.
Jahlil Okafor‘s father has not been shy about speaking out on his son’s behalf. NBA players are advocating for the 76ers to grant Okafor, who’s out of the rotation and on an expiring contract, his desired trade or buyout.
When both join forces…
Kevin Durant, Draymond Green and Stephen Curry appear to really enjoy Chukwudi Okafor’s shirt. That doesn’t mean they’re necessarily calling on Philadelphia to do anything. But they hadn’t to know how it’d be perceived.
It’s easy to predict free agents will avoid the 76ers as a result of the Okafor situation, but few anticipate getting stuck similarly. Players overwhelmingly value money, winning, role and location. If Golden State’s stars are applying any external pressure, it shouldn’t really move Philadelphia more than anything that has already been said and done.
Lonzo Ball draws outsized attention because his father, LaVar Ball, lures onlookers and because the rookie plays for the high-profile Los Angeles Lakers.
So, when Lonzo gets a triple-double – like his 11-points, 16-rebound, 11-assists game against the Nuggets yesterday – it draws scrutiny.
Mo Dakhil of The Jump Ball:
The NBA defines an assist as a “pass that directly leads to a basket. … An assist can be awarded for a basket scored after the ball has been dribbled if the player’s pass led to the field goal being made.”
I wouldn’t describe either of those passing as leading directly to a basket. Ball’s teammates each hold the ball for a moment after receiving the pass then take two dribbles against set defenses.
But assists are subjective, and the Lakers aren’t alone in offering a home-court scorekeeping advantage.
Kyle Neubeck of Philly Voice
So, criticize/laugh at the Lakers. But your favorite team probably manipulates assists in its favor, too.
Robin Lopez whacked T.J. Warren in the head while chasing an offensive rebound. Warren didn’t like that, so he ran to the opposite end of the court and shoved Lopez to the floor. A heated confrontation ensued, though it didn’t escalate beyond yelling.
Warren received a flagrant foul, and Lopez was hit with a technical in the Suns’ 113-105 win over the Bulls.
Corey Brewer is better at finishing fastbreaks than leading them.
Nice defense by Emmanuel Mudiay, too.
But at least the Lakers won.