Los Angeles Lakers: Is Devin Ebanks a New and Improved Version of Trevor Ariza?

Many fans of the Los Angeles Lakers see rookie forward Devin Ebanks as the second coming of former Lakers forward Trevor Ariza, and after watching the Lakers' 102-95 preseason victory over the Denver Nuggets, I would be inclined to agree.

Ebanks, at 6'9'', is slightly taller than Ariza and just as athletic, plus he plays with the same type of energy and intensity.

There is one huge difference in the players, though, because even though they share similar physical traits, Ebanks' game is much more advanced than Ariza's was as a rookie.

Ariza came to the NBA from UCLA with the reputation as a great athlete with somewhat raw fundamental skills and the potential to be a very good player if someone took the time to foster his development.

After stints with the New York Knicks and Orlando Magic, Ariza did find an environment with the Lakers where his game finally began to show signs of progression.

Ariza played a prominent role in the Lakers' 2009 championship season, and his long-distance shooting and timely defense added a different element to the team.

Ron Artest has more than filled Ariza's shoes, but he doesn't have the same type of energy and athleticism in the open court, and even though Artest can be effective offensively, he lacks the "wow" factor at the rim that Ariza was capable of.

There were several plays during the Lakers' win over Denver where Ebanks displayed a flair for the spectacular in the open court, and none were more evident than a fast-break dunk that was assisted by Kobe Bryant.

After the game, Bryant said it felt great to have a tall, athletic wing like Ebanks on the perimeter who could get out in the open court on the break and finish at the rim.

Coach Phil Jackson, he of the "thou shalt not play rookies" philosophy had nothing but praise for Ebanks after the game, and he admitted that Ebanks had pretty much exceeded hi...

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