As the Los Angeles Lakers have been dealing with players going in and out of the lineup due to the recent spike in coronavirus (COVID-19) cases around the league, the team did finally get a huge return as Trevor Ariza made his season debut after preseason ankle surgery.
Ariza was expected to play a big role for the Lakers this season and having him back in the lineup gives Frank Vogel arguably his best 3-and-D weapon.
Ariza has been somewhat limited in his court time so far since coming back, averaging just 18 minutes in his two contests. This is to be expected for a 36-year old who likely hasn’t been able to do as much running because of the injury, but Ariza says his conditioning is fine even though his ankle gets sore at times.
“Conditioning I feel pretty cool,” the veteran forward said. “It’s more so like a later, in the game longer in the game my foot gets a little sore. My ankle gets a bit sore. Just managing that and being able to stay engaged and keep my ankle as warm as possible. That’s pretty much the big thing, it’s not so much conditioning.”
This is proof of the work ethic Ariza possesses and the plan the Lakers took in slowly bringing him back so he can build up his stamina. A little soreness is to be expected, but Ariza looks as if he will be able to play bigger minutes in the near future.
That is ideal for the Lakers, who continue to be inconsistent throughout the season and find themselves at .500 once again after a three-game losing streak. But Ariza says the team isn’t making excuses, but embracing their issues in order to improve upon them.
“Well, obviously, as a group, our record doesn’t show where we want to be,” Ariza added. “Our play hasn’t been consistent, but we have stretches in games where it looks good, it looks great. We get better defensively. Stretches offensively where we’re clicking, but we haven’t been able to put it all together.
“Again, we can make excuses of people not being here or getting guys in and out. We can make excuses, but this is not a team that does that. We’re embracing the negative I guess you would say and trying to make it work.”
Ariza’s presence certainly could help that improvement and he has been on fire since returning, not missing a shot from the floor yet. Of course he isn’t a high-volume shooter, but he made sure he was prepared by putting in the work during his recovery.
“Well, throughout my time being injured, I didn’t just sit and not do anything. I was shooting every day, lifting every day. It’s routine. I watched us play, I watched film a lot.
“Getting into the right spots, trying to be ready whenever the ball comes to me or however many shots I get. Just being ready for them. It’s like just practice.”
Fizdale believes Ariza brings versatility to Lakers
Ariza brings a lot of different elements to the Lakers and has seen and done it all throughout his time in the NBA. Assistant coach David Fizdale believes that versatility will be a great addition to the Lakers.
“One was just getting him back on the court,” Fizdale said after the game. “Just sweating, hitting, cutting, all of the good stuff. For him to see the ball go in was huge. He’s gonna add a ton of versatility to our team as he gets stronger and gets his conditioning up.
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