Ever since it was announced earlier this week that Trevor Ariza would miss at least eight weeks after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery, there have been questions about the alternatives the Lakers should look into.
Several weeks ago, the Athletic reported that Ariza was seemingly going to be in the starting lineup with Anthony Davis, LeBron James, Russell Westbrook, and Wayne Ellington. Well, with Ariza set to miss the next two months, the Lakers will need to look to see who can slot into Ariza’s position.
The immediate option seems to be the young third-year player Talen Horton-Tucker. His ability to get to the rim at will has forced opponents to dare him to attempt more threes, and that has been something he specifically has worked on this past offseason.
The issue here is that Westbrook and James are already stalwarts at getting to the rim. If THT is to start alongside them, that will just give opponents more incentive to clog the paint.
So, what the team really needs is someone who can be the catch and shoot player at the three. Carmelo Anthony immediately comes to mind as someone who can help fill that role. His catch and shoot numbers with Portland last year were at a respectable 38.3% per NBA Stats. The big issue here is that in Frank Vogel’s defense first schemes, it is hard to see Anthony contributing much outside of short spurts off the bench as a quick scorer.
The other option here seems to be Kent Bazemore. His entire career has been centered around being able to catch and shoot, and play solid defense. As the purest three-and-D player on the roster, he will likely be asked to pick up the slack left in Ariza’s absence.
Prior to Wednesday’s game against the Suns, head coach Vogel had this to say about Bazemore.
“I really think Baze has separated himself some. “His wingspan and athleticism has been more impressive up close in that regard. I just think everybody else has been competing in what we’re trying to do. The execution of our defense. That’s the biggest thing.”
Ariza was never expected to be an enormous impact for the Lakers on the court, especially at his age of 36. His absence will definitely open the opportunity for other veterans like Bazemore to show the team and fans alike why he is still capable of having a significant impact on a championship team.