Thursday , Jun , 04 , 2009 Oly Sandor

Is Trevor Ariza the key to Los Angeles defeating Orlando and winning the NBA Finals?

In February 2008, the Orlando Magic sent little-used Trevor Ariza to the Los Angeles Lakers for shooting big-man Brian Cook and Mo Evans. At the time, the trade was viewed as little more than a shuffling of contracts. Sixteen months later, this swap of spare parts could go a long way in deciding who wins the NBA Finals between the Magic and Lakers. Cook is a still a bit player, just with the Houston Rockets, while Evans has since linked up with the Atlanta Hawks …


Is Trevor Ariza the key to Los Angeles defeating Orlando and winning the NBA Finals?He is no longer an afterthought. 

In February 2008, the Orlando Magic sent little-used Trevor Ariza to the Los Angeles Lakers for shooting big-man Brian Cook and Mo Evans. At the time, the trade was viewed as little more than a shuffling of contracts.

Sixteen months later, this swap of spare parts could go a long way in deciding who wins the NBA Finals between the Magic and Lakers. Cook is a still a bit player, just with the Houston Rockets, while Evans has since linked up with the Atlanta Hawks.

But Ariza has developed into the purple-and-gold’s top defender and resident tough guy. On Thursday, Phil Jackson will rely on his lockdown skills to contain opposing forwards Hedgo Turkoglu and Rashard Lewis.

The once discarded, Ariza, is now a key player in the NBA Finals.

Dwight Howard may be Orlando’s superstar, but Turkoglu is their finisher. Throughout the regular season and playoffs, the Turkish swing has hit clutch. In the Eastern Conference Finals, his length was a problem for the Cavaliers.

Unlike Cleveland’s Delonte West, Ariza has enough size to battle Turkolgu. Standing a firm 6-8, the UCLA graduate won’t allow the Magic’s closer to fire away uncontested from the outside. Instead, he’ll challenge each and every shot attempt.

Of course, another versatile forward, Lamar Odom, will see significant minutes against Lewis. This match-up is also important. But to be effective, the supremely gifted Odom must push Orlando’s four-man on both ends of the floor.

Interestingly enough, Ariza and Odom are both unrestricted free agents in July. They’ll likely have different experiences on the open market. Ariza, making just $2.9 million per season is underpaid, and will get a major raise, while Odom, if he wants to stay with the Lakers, will have to take a cut on his $10 million a year salary.

After struggling to eek out a career, Ariza is now an established pro. When the NBA Finals are finished, he could be a star.

How important is Ariza to the Lakers winning the NBA Finals? Get at us in the comment box below and return to HoopsVibe the Blog for more tidbits. Photo courtesy of Keith Allison.