No Laker improved more from the regular season to the playoffs than Trevor Ariza, as witnessed by his numbers.
During the regular season, Ariza averaged 8.9 points, 4.3 rebounds, 1.8 assists and a team-high 1.67 steals in 24.4 minutes on 46 percent shooting from the field and 31.9 percent from three. In the playoffs, he went up to 11.3 points, 4.2 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.57 steals in 31.4 minutes, but most impressive was the improvement in his shooting and thus his efficiency. He nailed 47.6 percent of his three pointers and 49.7 percent overall from the field, consistently punishing teams for leaving him alone.
However, much of Ariza’s exit interview dealt with his pending free agency:
- He opened by suggesting he doesn’t want to go anywhere: “I would love to, I hope so, I feel like I am at home because I am, but I’d love to come back.”
- Ariza added what’s most important in his coming contract: “Definitely stability would mean the most. Money is important, this is our job … But I built a bond with my coaches and teammates, and I get a feeling we could be really good for a really long time.”
- Ariza said that Phil Jackson and Mitch Kupchak told him that he improved a lot, and were really happy with how he played and how much he was able to help the team. “I felt loved in there,” he added. “I felt a lot of love.”
- When asked how much winning plays a part in his decision, he said this: “I’m a winner. I love to win. I hate losing. When I played for other teams even in college I wasn’t too happy. Winning plays a big part of it.”
- Ariza said he didn’t get the sense that it was between him and Lamar Odom in terms of whom the Lakers could re-sign.
- Will he continue to improve? Of course: “I’m a person that will never stop working no matter how good I get because I always feel that you can get better in some way.”
- He said he thought Derek Fisher’s leveling of Luis Scola in Game 2 of the Western Conference semis was the biggest play of the postseason because it showed L.A.’s toughness.
- Ariza concluded that he wants to focus most on his guard skills in the offseason, though he said he’d be working on “everything.”