Over the past few weeks, Washington Wizards fans (including myself) have speculated on what the Wizards will do with Trevor Ariza this season, especially after he was unexpectedly inserted into the starting lineup in Tuesday’s preseason game against the Brooklyn Nets.
Besides his ability to shoot the three at a very high rate with John Wall on the floor, Trevor Ariza’s only calling card has been his perimeter defense. With Emeka Okafor out indefinitely, Washington will inevitably rely on a collective effort on the defensive side of the floor, which may be the only explanation as to why they swapped Martell Webster out of the starting lineup for Ariza. As we’ve seen on Tuesday, Ariza probably wouldn’t be a reliable option offensively this season, which is an area the Wizards desperately needed to improve from this past season. In fact, the Wizards were a “+10″ with Webster on the floor, but had a +/- of “-6″ with Ariza. So what gives?
Even though Ariza is probably a better defender than Webster, albeit an overrated defensive player, I don’t see the logic behind starting him over Webster. With that said, the Wizards have two other capable small forwards who have the ability to start (Webster/Porter), and they may be trying to increase Ariza’s trade value by having him start right out of the gate. Washington lost the rebounding battle to the Nets on Tuesday, and Jan Vesely was the only starting big man to surpass double digit rebounds. Nene was never a great rebounder, and if the Wizards can’t collectively make up for Okafor’s absence, a trade may be necessary to increase their chances of making the post season.
I was never a huge fan of Trevor Ariza, but he does have value. How much value? Well, that’s to be determined. Over the past several seasons, NBA teams have coveted 3-and-D players, so Ariza will certainly draw some interest around the league. His expiring contract, which is worth slightly over $7 million dollars, could definitely be an enticing asset.
Since the regular season is just over two weeks away, I’d like to see the Wizards pursue a trade before it’s too late. I believe that Washington could make up for Okafor’s absence with the talent they currently have on the roster, but it’s better to be safe than sorry, especially when playoff goals are at risk.
The Wizards have the talent to make up for Ariza’s absence, but I’m not 100% sure they could completely cover up for Okafor’s. So, what do you believe the Wizards should do with Trevor Ariza? If you think they should ultimately trade him, who would you like to see them get back? Let me know in the comment section.
(Trevor Ariza believes he’s a starter, via CSN Washington)