Trevor Ariza was likely the most frustrating and exhilarating player I’ve ever seen in a Wizards uniform (Yes, I watched Jordan Crawford). His propensity to make me want to pull my hair and rip my brains out, while simultaneously making me scream in exultation was quite the phenomenon. At the beginning of the season, I wanted nothing to do with Ariza, as his lazy defense and ridiculously bad offense made me close to the point of vomiting. However, Ariza turned it around midseason and I feel exactly how I did about Ariza after the trade happened. Indifferent.
Ariza was quite frankly awful without John Wall. He had an abysmal eFG% of 42.1 and a TS% of 46. Ariza was forced to be a shot creator and ball handler, two roles where he has always struggled. It showed as many Wizards called for his head. Ariza’s bounce back was encouraging however, and the fans started to respect him.
Lets get into the numbers with the 6’8, 27 year old swingman out of UCLA. Ariza’s basic stats were his 9.5 points, 4.8 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.3 steals. Ariza shot a career high 36.4 percent from three-point range (just above league average) and that number increased after Wall came back. Per NBAwowy.com, Ariza shot 39.3% from three with John Wall on the team and a blistering 41.5% after the all-star break. This was largely due to the fact that Ariza was able to now comfortably drift into the corners, while John Wall drew attention from defenses. As Wall weaved his way into the paint, defenders helped off Ariza, leaving him with comfortable looks, especially in the corner.
Ariza is one of those ideal “3 and D” players because of his ability to defend key positions while having a new found ability to consistently knock down threes. Ariza’s shot selection this year was much improved from years past, as he took more threes and shots at the rime and less long twos. For a player that was regarded as a shot jacker early in his career, Ariza’s turnaround was quite a pleasant surprise. We of course cannot forget about the “D”. Ariza made the Wizards over 2 points better on the floor on defense than off. He often played key minutes in the 4th quarter because of his ability to guard the best player on the opposing team. His ability to smartly and aggressively attack passing lanes was invaluable, as his length and athleticism often threw teams out of their sets if not making them turn the ball over.
While some may point to Ariza’s hefty contract (7.7 million next year), he is the kind of player other teams heavily seek. His ability to knock down corner threes, and play sound defense, while being at the still young age of 27, could make him a key part of the Wizards’ future, if the team chooses him to be as such.