At 6'8", Ariza can stand up against the league's best small forwards, shooting guards, and some of the smaller power forwards; he needs to put on some more weight if he wants to be competitive at the 4 position, but I think that would have an adverse affect on his game. His defense has gotten better, even since last season, where he saw limited play. Ariza keeps his hands in passing lanes, doesn't "take off" a single possession, and has more hustle by himself than most teams have with all their players combined.
He's Scottie Pippen meets Shawn Kemp, and a sprinkle on top of Clyde The Glide Drexler.
What prompted this article though, was a single play in Thursday night's ass whooping of the Phoenix Suns. This impressed me more than any hustle play, any big time block, huge three, or smooth layout that he's put up this season. Ariza caught an outlet pass, outran all the Suns, but got fouled while going up for the lay-up. The play was seemingly harmless, but Ariza was taken down relatively hard and fell to the ground.
Do you know what happened next?
He fucking sprung back up to his feet in a flash, to get ready to shoot his free throws. I mean, he seriously got up faster than you see wide receivers blast off the line of scrimmage.
If you're unfamiliar with basketball, or sports that involve personal fouls (i.e.: soccer, hockey, football, etc) then you might not realize why this is worthy of it's own article, or even worthy of praise. The sad fact is that many times, players will try to sell the foul, no matter what sport, but chiefly basketball and soccer. That is to say, they make the foul (or alleged foul) painfully obvious to the referee / umpire, to try and persuade them to blow their whistle.
Watching Ariza's reaction to the foul just raised his stock with me. Not only is he a phenomenal athlete that will have many more years of good basketball to come, he gives 150% every time he's on the court, but he also understands the key to competition - sportsmanship and class. There are few players that have impressed me as much this season as Ariza, and I can say without a doubt that the Los Angeles Lakers and their head coach, Phil Jackson, are lucky to have him wearing their colors.
Do not lose this guy - he's got franchise player written all over him.